I care for my husband who has a chronic respiratory condition and early stage dementia. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to be able to care for him but it can take a lot out of me – and like all people, my husband and I have our ups and downs.
My friends say I should just take a break, but it’s not as easy as that. I need to be there when my husband has appointments, because he can get confused. He can also get very anxious and agitated. I am a calm person and can usually settle things down, but it seems to be getting worse and I’m worried I won’t be able to manage.
I told Cathy that if I took a break at this stage I wouldn’t want to go away. She told me there were other things I could do to manage my stress. She has been helping me find ways to have smaller breaks during the week. Cathy helped get in-home respite which gives me a few hours off during the week. I use that time to go to my health appointments or I knit baby clothes for the Women of West Heidelberg to sell at their stall at the centre. The ladies gave me a pattern and the wool and I can knit at home. It helps me relax and I feel good about myself because I am giving back to the community.
I found out how important it is to look after yourself after I cared for my mother years ago. I was doing everything for mum and still working. There was no one like Cathy to support me as the carer.
After mum died I fell in a heap and didn’t know what to do with my life. I was depressed and it took me a long time to recover. I’m older now and have my own health problems. I had just started seeing the GP at Banyule Community Health’s medical clinic, and now Cathy has got me coming here for my diabetes and I do a strength training group with the physiotherapists. It really helps being able to get all the services in the one place.
I know I need to look after myself but this time I was struggling to get started. Cathy has really understood my situation and is helping me to achieve the things I need to stay healthy and well. It means I can care for my husband in the way that we both wanted, and at the moment, that’s the most important thing.