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Carers ‘feel guilty’ asking for help from support services when trying to manage someone with an illnesses on their own.
That’s one of the things that we too often hear from family carers, especially when they first come to our services and they feel guilty for having to ask for help in the first place like they are being a burden on others. Their compassionate heart never thought that they would be the one reaching out. There is often a huge amount of guilt associated with being a carer.
It is quite common to feel guilty about things such as:
- the way the person was treated in the past
- feelings of embarrassment about the person’s odd behaviour (if they suffer from dementia or down syndrome)
- losing your temper through tiredness, frustration and feeling of doing it all alone
- not wanting the responsibility of caring (but rather inherited the responsibility)
You may feel guilty about past promises that cannot be met, such as ‘I’ll always look after you’. Too often carers have those feelings of ‘oh God I wish I could run away’, ‘I just don’t want to be here’ and ‘why did this happen to me?’
Research shows that peer support was “absolutely crucial” to improving the well being of carers, as many carers are at risk of isolation. It can be lonely and at times depressing when the entire support rests on one person’s shoulders. But they should not be made to feel guilty to reach out. It is OK to ask for help.
A recent study by Deloitte Access Economics valued unpaid care in Australia at over $60 billion a year. That has to equate to a huge number of carers in our communities that should be reaching out for some extra support.
The physical and emotional demands of caring for someone with an illness can be high. As the amount of care that is needed increases, more time and energy is required from the carer. If you are worn down, caring will become even more difficult and it will not be easy to continue balancing your own needs as a carer with those of your family and the person with the illness.
As a carer, you can take care of yourself by being open about what help you need now, and planning ahead for what help you may need in the future. You need a break too and there is a wide range of support available to ensure you can continue as best you can.
It is important that carers take a break from care giving to avoid becoming worn down. Support and respite care are available for carers and can provide comfort and practical assistance, as we see every day with some of our clients.