Are you caring for your husband or wife, mum or dad? You’re not alone.
There are around 320,000 Western Australians providing unpaid care and support to a family member or friend.
It’s a tough job and many people juggle their caring role with work, plus looking after children.
This balancing act can take a huge toll, emotionally, physically and financially, leaving many carers struggling.
Yet people are sometimes reluctant to seek support, feeling guilty and believing they should be able to cope.
Whereas seeking help early can make a huge difference to the mental and physical health of both the people being cared for and the carer.
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, respite is an option to explore.
There’s an array of respite services available that can be tailored to your needs, and government funding is available to help cover the costs.
One of the first services to investigate is a social program, like Amana Living Kites, which offers day trips and outings.
This provides you with a chance to attend to your own life, while giving the person you care for a chance to meet new people and do things they love.
Social programs also take place at day clubs but these are based at a centre.
Also explore in-home respite, where a care worker comes into your home for a few hours during the day or even overnight.
This gives you an opportunity to have a break and do different things, whether that’s going for a coffee, catching up on your to-do list or having a night out.
The next level is residential respite, which is available at residential aged care facilities and is for people who need help every day.
You can book up to 63 days a year, which would give a carer a break about every five weeks.
In addition to respite, look out for support services like the McCusker Nurses who provide guidance to carers of people living with dementia.
And remember, you’ll be in a better position to care for others if you practice self-care.