Gary F's story
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.