Carers Week 15 – 21 October

October 16, 2023

By Clinical Associate Professor Saroja Gunasekera

Carers are people in our community who provide invaluable unpaid care and support to family members/friends living with a disability, mental illness, chronic or terminal illness, or frail elders.

The caring role may vary from supporting daily activities such as showering, dressing, shopping, through to managing medications, administration and providing emotional and social support. There are over 2.65 million carers across Australia, and 70% are women, with the average age of 54 years.

The physical, mental, financial, and social impact of the caring role should not be underestimated. And because carers are often so busy looking after the needs of others, they struggle to find the time to attend to their own health.

Carers are encouraged to visit their own GPs and get strategies to help them manage their health to minimise carer fatigue and avoid burn-out, to help them maintain their own quality of life.

Difficult as it can be when time and energy poor, it is critical carers stay physically healthy, eat a healthy diet, limit alcohol, try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night and exercise regularly. Health direct has some tips on improving sleep, and how to get more active.

There are other services available for carers which provide social and emotional support including the Australian Government’s Carer Gateway which provides free professional phone counselling and an online carer forum which is a safe, anonymous space to connect with other carers and support one another.

Carer Gateway provide tailored support packages where carers may be able to get a range of practical supports like planned respite and transport services.

Importantly, Carer Gateway provide emergency respite care for the person in need in case the carer becomes ill or injured. Call 1800 422 737 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Carers NSW also provides information, education and training, resources, and referrals to support carers.