Confessions of a carer: 5 things you need to know about caregiving

Most people will at some point in their lives provide care to a family member or friend, whether it be for an aging parent or for someone who is recovering from surgery, such as for a hip or knee replacement.

Beyond the information and resources available from local organisations and online, one of the best ways to prepare for caregiving is to hear and learn from others who have followed a similar journey to you.

We’ve gathered some of the common confessions of carers to help you better navigate your way in your new role.

Confession 1: “Learn to take help when you need it.”

Juggling your career, kids, partner, friends, pets, housework, errands and the person you are caring for leaves little time left to enjoy some you-time. Along the journey of caring for her mother, Zoe discovered that although it can be difficult to do, accepting help is essential.

“Often caring for a sick loved one can be very taxing on a person and it means we often forget to care for ourselves. Take time for yourself and let people help you. The last thing you want is to be burnt out when your loved one needs you,” Zoe said.

Confession 2: “Caring for someone else can sometimes feel like being their P.A.”

There are many responsibilities that come with caring for a loved one that you may not initially expect. For Zoe, answering her mum’s phone and organising a schedule for the many visitors who wanted to drop in and see her was an unexpected task.

“My mum was always a bit of a lone wolf. However, after the surgery, people she knew swarmed around her to provide support, and we even had people wanting to come and stay from all over the country. Answering phones and organising times for visitors was unexpected, but it was great to see people supporting her,” Zoe said.

Confession 3: “Get to know what kind of patient your loved one is.”

Every patient is unique. For some, keeping themselves entertained during recovery comes naturally. For others, TV and a good book might not be enough to keep them busy. After caring for his partner following surgery, Chris said it’s essential to know what kind of patient your loved one is, so you can better cater to their needs.

“I was very lucky; my wife was quite happy to rest on the lounge with a book or watch a television series while I cooked dinner or ran errands. If she hadn’t been so comfortable entertaining herself, I would have had to find other ways to keep her happy, so knowing how your loved one will behave as a patient is important,” Chris said.

Confession 4: “Having a sense of humour helps.”

Having a stash of jokes and a bright disposition will help your loved one feel comfortable and relaxed, even if they are in pain. Jackie also found that sometimes you need to read between the lines to understand what your loved one needs.

“It can be difficult for your loved one to communicate their needs due to their pain relief medication. You need to get a real feel for their routine, so you can anticipate their needs and stay on top of medication dosages and timings. Sometimes all they need is a good laugh, so it’s handy to have a few jokes at hand,” Jackie said.

Confession 5: “My mum learned just how much her family loved her.”

The companionship and support that you provide as a caregiver is something your loved one will cherish for the rest of their life. Simply knowing you are making a difference can be extremely rewarding.

“One thing most people probably wouldn't know is how rewarding being a carer can be, despite the circumstances. Your loved one needs you, and it feels good knowing that you are the one they chose to be closest to them in their time of need,” Zoe said.

As one of the top Orthopaedic Surgeons in Newcastle and the Hunter, Dr Stuart MacKenzie has developed a collection of free guides on knee and hip replacement surgery to help make your caregiving role easier.

2 Mar 2018

Published by Default Admin

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