Caring for the carers
When a loved moves into aged care, relatives can experience feelings of bereavement. Experts say it’s vital carers seek help.
After putting themselves second to look after an aging relative, research shows carers can experience feelings of guilt, depression and loneliness when their loved one moves into an aged care home.
General Manager of Bupa Aged Care Bellarine Jannie Piercy says at this point some carers are exhausted and overwhelmed.
“There’s lots of evidence to show that their own health has deteriorated,” says Piercy.
“There are things that they’re denying themselves, and they feel guilty for going out now that their resident is safe in an aged care home,” she says.
“They almost have to re-learn that it’s okay to enjoy themself,” says Piercy.
In 2012, Bupa Aged Care Bellarine started a Carers Support Group for relatives and friends of residents in the home.
It’s had a remarkable impact helping carers cope with having a loved one in an aged care home.
Bupa Bellarine team member, Wendy Batty says most members of the support group have had experience caring for a relative who lives with dementia.
“They share the same experience; they’re all going though the same thing,” says Batty.
The group meets once a month where they either hear from a guest speaker from Carers Victoria or go out on the Bupa Bus for an afternoon tea.
“They’ve bonded together, they feed off each other to give and receive support,” says Batty.
“Some of them have loved ones who have passed away but they still come to the group,” she says.
Batty says one gentleman’s wife died two years ago, but he’s still a huge part of the support group.
He makes a cake every year for the Christmas party, and makes handmade gifts for those involved.
“It gives him a great sense of purpose and belonging,” says Batty.
Many of the relatives who have gone on this journey together have formed lasting friendships, which helps the group stay together.
After seeing the difference the support group has made in the lives of all involved, Piercy and Batty would advise carers going through this change to seek support.
“Find a support group where you can share your experience to help you through,” says Piercy. “Then you’ll be able to connect with others going through a similar thing.”