Felicity from Queensland, lives with her elderly dad who has diabetes. She is very busy, with looking after him as well as her own family.
‘Self preservation is essential. You have to step back sometimes, even if it’s just for a small amount of time.’
How did you start to be a carer?
My dad moved in with me a couple of years ago. He’s a high-risk diabetic and in his 70s, so it was an easier family arrangement so I could help him out and keep an eye on him.
What is happening now?
For the last couple of months, he has had an open ulcer on his foot. It’s really restricted what he can do and it’s hard for him to move around, plus he goes to a hospital appointment every week.
At the same time I am working full time and looking after my 12-year-old daughter.
So the ulcer has increased the stress levels because there’s just a lot to juggle – hospital visits, school runs, work. There’s so much to shuffle around and do.
The good thing is that I know this intense period will calm down again. The ulcer will get better, and we’ll go back to ‘normal’ levels of stress. But it’s always going to go up and down, especially with his diabetes and age. I just have to look forward to the rest between stressful periods.
‘…it’s always going to go up and down… I just have to look forward to the rest between stressful periods.’
What is the hardest thing about being a carer?
The hardest thing I find is the lack of support.
I have family around, and they can and do step in when I’m stuck, but in general I think they are oblivious to the amount of work involved in dad’s care.
That becomes really clear when something happens – for example dad had a fall and the rest of the family freaked out, but it was just a minor incident for us. There are always problems like this that we are dealing with, but they don’t see it because they’re not around all the time.
I do reach out when I really need them, but it’s often just as much work to explain and organise what needs to be done, so I end up just doing it instead.
What is the best thing about being a carer?
I love my dad, and it’s nice to spend as much time as possible with him. I’m big on family.
And it’s nice to be needed. I’m glad I can make sure he’s OK.
‘…it is good having family close by that I can reach out to so I can have a break.’
What have you found that helps you?
I’m a venter, so I really appreciate having close friends to vent to!
And it is good having family close by that I can reach out to so I can have a break, even if they are just coming around to hang out with him.
I haven’t looked into services.
Dad is a veteran and I’ve been told that there are things available through the DVA, but actually dad is reluctant to ask for help. I think it’s a pride thing – he’s getting older and he doesn’t want to admit it, and he doesn’t want to appear vulnerable or weak.
Plus I just haven’t found the time to research, to see what’s out there.
What would you like to tell other carers?
Self preservation is essential. You have to step back sometimes, even if it’s just for a small amount of time. I feel so much better if I can just spend half an hour at the beach.
If you are caring for an older person, visit the My Aged Care website to see what help they can get, or call 1800 200 422
Find out what support veterans can get at the DVA website
For information about diabetes, visit the Diabetes Australia website