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Byron Shire
March 24, 2023

Celebrating and supporting carers

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This week is Carers Week, which celebrates and supports carers of all people, young and old. Photo Jeff Dawson

Every day there are family and friends who provide care to others in their life. National Carers Week, 10–16 October, aims to recognise those 2.65 million carers in Australia who support those family and friends who have a disability, mental health condition, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged and need support. It aims to raise awareness and support those carers, who, unfortunately, given the health restrictions, often face isolation, loneliness, and poor mental health.

‘A carer is generally a family member or loved one that provides unpaid support to a care recipient’, explained Emma White, Care co-ordinator at Byron Shire Respite Service.

Carers NSW Chief Executive Officer, Elena Katrakis, said National Carers Week has come at an important time this year.

‘Amidst such challenging times in the community, it is clear that the need to support and recognise carers has never been greater,’ Katrakis said.

‘While celebrating the ongoing work of carers is something that should be constant, National Carers Week provides an excellent opportunity each year for the broader community to come together and show their appreciation for carers.

‘It is important that carers are not just looking after the person they care for, but for themselves as well.

‘This is why we will be running a range of free online events throughout National Carers Week that have a focus on the health and wellbeing of carers.

‘We encourage carers to use this as an opportunity to do something for themselves and enjoy some of the activities we have on throughout the week.’

More information on Carers NSW National Carers Week events.

Dementia focus

Kristina is a Byron Shire resident, who cares for her mother Alma, who has dementia. Kristina says her situation is not as difficult as some. ‘I feel sorry for carers who don’t have someone as easy I have. My mother is not an angry person’.

Recently Dementia Action Week, 20–26 September, aimed to raise awareness and support those carers, who, unfortunately, given the health restrictions, often face isolation, loneliness, and poor mental health.

Kristina lives in Northern NSW with her mother, who has dementia. And for her, the most challenging thing is that ‘you don’t know how to keep them entertained’ during lockdowns.

Susan says that she is lucky because at least her partner John, also with dementia, can still enjoy some activities in Brunswick. ‘Byron Respite Care is an excellent organisation, but other places don’t have that chance’, she explains.

Kristina says her situation is not as difficult as some.

‘I feel sorry for carers who don’t have someone as easy I have. She’s [her mother] not an angry person’.

Carers Week reminds the community that it is important to support carers in Australia. They say even simple strategies such as keeping in touch, encouraging carers to take time for themselves, helping them with their daily tasks, or make sure they are okay are valuable.

‘Our challenge and the challenge to all Australians is to increase awareness,’ explained Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said in a recent Instagram live session.

‘We want everyone to be able to know what to do that can make a difference’

Speaking during the Dementia Australia Instagram live, Flick Palmateer, an Australian professional surfer who had for her mother when she had dementia said that the best support for her was through communication, ‘just a simple checking in’.

‘Your support can make a big difference,’ affirmed Ms McCabe.

Click here if you want to know more about dementia or how to support carers.

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