When I first met Eva, she just needed someone to listen as she talked through her situation and reflected on how her past carer experiences were impacting on her.
As a carer support worker, part of my role was to guide Eva, to clarify what she wanted to achieve and prioritise her goals. I was really struck by how determined she was to make sure that she didn’t become depressed like she had when caring for her mum.
I see many carers in similar situations. In addition to the stress of caring for a family member, there is often associated grief and loss as the person’s condition gets worse.
Even with her determination, Eva said she was having difficulty finding time to look after her own health and wellbeing. She also said that it was getting harder to manage her husband’s anxiety. I could see the relief on her face
when I asked if it would help to learn more about dementia and its management. I referred her to the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service.
When Eva told me how much she had loved working in aged care and that she felt she “received more than she gave”, we started to talk about volunteering. Although formal volunteer roles had to be put on hold, it sparked the idea of giving back to the community.
I gave Eva a ‘task tracker’ to record how her time was spent in one week. When we looked at it a week later we could
see some areas where changes could free up time. I supported Eva to access My Aged Care for in-home respite and we looked for activities where Eva could use this time to give back to the community in a way that was flexible enough to suit her. I also used the opportunity to let Eva know about other My Aged Care services that she may need in the future.
Eva was also seeing some health providers in the area where she used to live; it was a 40 minute drive, each-way. We talked about more convenient options and I linked her in with the diabetes educator, the physiotherapist for herself and the podiatrist whom does home visits for her husband.
At the moment Eva is pleased to have taken some steps towards looking after herself. She laughs when I tell her that nothing could stop her, but I have no doubt that with the right support, Eva will soon be doing many other things that she used to enjoy.