A carer is a person who gives someone regular and ongoing care and help. Often a carer gives this support without being paid. A carer could be a family member, a partner, a friend, or a neighbour.
A carer may give care for a few hours a week or all day every day, depending on the level of support needed. Care can be received:
- in the older person’s home
- in a residential aged care home
- in your home.
Caring for someone with a particular need
Everyone’s care needs are different. There are many resources, services, and support groups available when caring for someone with a particular need, or in a particular situation:
- Caring for someone living with dementia
- Caring for someone with a chronic disease
- Caring for someone with incontinence
- Caring for someone with a mental health condition
- Caring for someone with hearing, vision and oral health difficulties
- Caring for someone with a disability
- Caring for someone nearing the end of their life.
Support for you as a carer
Many carers see themselves as a family member who looks after a person they love, not as a carer. This means that you may not think to look for help.
Everyone’s path to being a carer is different. Your family member or friend could need help suddenly – for example, if they’ve had a stroke. Other times, it’s a gradual process with physical and/or mental changes slowly making it harder for them to care for themselves. Either way, looking after your own health and wellbeing is important because it will help you in your caring role.
Tips for being confident in your caring role
Making sure others understand your needs will help you balance your role as a carer with other aspects of your life. Be confident about talking to the person you care for about your need to be:
- given privacy
- treated with dignity and respect
- asked to help, not just expected to help
- acknowledged and included in decision-making.
Other tips include:
- carrying out only the tasks you are comfortable with
- voicing your concerns and offering suggestions
- asking other family members for support
- providing relevant information to doctors, nurses and other service providers
- talking about support services available and accessing them when you need help
- reducing the amount of care you provide, or making arrangements for permanent care such as moving into an aged care home.
There is a wide range of services available to help you as a carer. The Carer Gateway is designed to give you support and assistance so you can continue your caring role. You can find further information on their website, including help with: