Are you an accidental carer?
Many people simply drift into the role of caring for an elderly loved one. No one asks them if they want to – it just happens.
Sometimes it’s because a family member lives with the person who’s declining and it’s just expected that they will undertake this role.
Sometimes it’s because of cultural expectations that dictate that the eldest daughter will undertake this role, regardless of her other responsibilities.
Whatever the reason, it’s a very demanding role and we need to keep an eye on the carers. Unfortunately it’s the carer who can sometimes fall apart before the person for whom they’re caring, especially when it’s an elderly partner looking after their spouse.
Even in families where they agree to share the load, there are usually those who carry the greatest load and this can sometimes erode what may have been a good relationship with their loved one. When the demands become constant or extreme, or their cognition changes and they are no longer the person they were, this can be challenging, exhausting and sometimes exasperating.
Meanwhile, when other family members have escaped the caring role, it can cause resentment amongst siblings.
And often there is a sizeable dose of grief added to the mix: – grief for the parent who is a mere shadow of the person they once were – grief for a good relationship that may have slipped away – grief that you may have to put Mum or Dad into care and don’t want to – grief that your elderly loved one won’t be here forever.
Speaking with the right professionals can provide answers to some of these issues, but if you’re like me when a relative needed to go into care, I didn’t know that any professionals were out there and thought I had to navigate this mine field alone.
After I’d finally got her into a great Residential Aged Care Home, I interviewed the one professional who did give us some help and he introduced me to others. If only he’d done that before, I may not have felt like the girl in the cartoon above who insists, ‘I’m fine?’
My Aged Care Liaison business was born of necessity – I want families to be free to provide emotional support to loved ones whilst the professionals deal with the nuts and bolts of getting a person into care.