Gary F's story

3 minute read
Video duration 2:41

Dad's got COPD, which is emphysema, and he had an episode in Bali, in which case, since he's been back, he's got bladder cancer as well.
Him and his partner moved back to Sydney. I had to find a place and they moved back to live with me and they've been living with me ever since.
They gave him six months to live and now it's three and a half years later.
Yeah, well the first six months that he arrived, he needed more medical attention than ever before, in which case, living with him is a full time thing. 
We had a lot of nurses coming around that really helped keep him out of the hospital system.
Then, through that process, he's needed regular care and he's on full time oxygen as well as morphine and other medication, which we take care of.
They've looked after us very well. We get a carer who comes around five days a week for a couple of hours, helps dad wash and do any 
of the personal hygiene so that he doesn't have to have me do it.
He's still mobile, but he's very restricted in his mobility. 
We're talking ten metres, fifteen minutes and he's going to be out of breath, so he can't really put any strain on in the shower,
walking to and from the bathroom, that all puts a strain on him.
So, he does use a mobility chair when he's out and a mobile oxygen machine.
I came across Carer Gateway and they've helped put together a tailored package to focus on my needs, which is really help around the house.
They've also helped with accessibility for dad, making tailored adjustments to my vehicle so that I can take his wheelchair with me.
I've looked after my mental health through the love of my animals, looking after other animals.
I'm also a WIRES carer, so through looking after native animals that kind of kept me going and my dogs keep me going. 
It's not been easy, but I wouldn't change it for the world.
I wouldn't have him anywhere else. 
My favourite part about being a carer is getting to spend time with my dad and really get to connect with him and spend those last few quality – however long I have with him - together.
My advice to unpaid carers is to enjoy it while you can, because it doesn't last forever.
It's precious time and manage your stress and get help if you need it.

Meet Gary

Gary lives with and provides daily care for his father, Len. Caring is not new to Gary, as he also works with WIRES, Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organisation, rescuing and rehabbing native animals.

Gary also works as a photographer and TV location assistant.

Caring for a parent

Len has emphysema, a condition that causes shortness of breath and coughing, and bladder cancer. After Len experienced a major medical episode while living in Bali, Gary brought Len and Len’s girlfriend home to Sydney to live with him.

During the first six months of Len living back in Australia, a nurse would come to Gary’s home regularly to provide medical care. Now, Len needs oxygen and morphine, is limited in his mobility, and receives some palliative care. Along with supporting Len’s medical needs, Gary also helps with meals, transport, shopping, housework and supporting Len financially.

Advice to other carers

Gary didn’t expect to be living with his dad and his dad’s girlfriend at the age of 45, but he knew the opportunity to spend the extra time with his dad would be worth it. After the sudden loss of his mother when he was 22, Gary knows you can’t get that time back.

'What I’d tell people facing the same situation is, don’t be scared. It’s worth it,' said Gary.

'It’s also important to remember to manage your stress,' advised Gary.

When things get tough, Gary makes sure to get to the beach with his dogs and looks forward to the creative outlet of his work. 'Since becoming a carer, although I make time for myself, I’ve also had to start medication to manage my stress and anxiety. It’s helped me to be more present with dad.'

Help and support through Carer Gateway

Gary has recently discovered Carer Gateway and is in the process of coordinating a tailored support package. 'Having some extra help with the housework, making accessibility adjustments to the house and car, and getting some respite support so I could take a break are my priorities,' said Gary.

'I’ve always experienced stress when it comes to money, so I’ve decided I’m going to focus on more experiences and less stuff. I’m ready to live more and not wait for the right time.'

Gary’s first goal is to turn his new van into a camper so that he can get out and do more, hopefully with Len along for the ride.

photo of Gary and his father Len

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