Should you become a full-time carer?

If your loved one requires full-time care, should you be the one that provides it? Here are some things you might want to consider.

At some point, many of us will face the challenging question of how best to care for an older loved one. The decision can be daunting so it’s a good idea to seek advice on all the options open to you.

Bupa Aged Care’s Head of Dementia Services, Margaret Ryan, recommends thinking about your personal circumstances when deciding what is right for you and the care receiver.

“Forward planning is crucial and, if possible, including your loved one and the immediate family in the decision-making process is wise. Becoming a full-time carer or choosing residential care are both emotionally challenging steps, and seeking support is essential. To assist you, weigh up the positives and negatives. It’s also important to find out what services in the community are there to help you.”

"Becoming a full-time carer or choosing residential care are both emotionally challenging steps, and seeking support is essential."

Things to consider

There are some important questions to consider when making your decision about whether you should become a full time carer for a loved one.

Finances

How will you manage if you don’t have a steady income stream? Are you eligible for the Carer Payment? Would the non-means-tested Carer Allowance be a better option? Will you need to change your living arrangements?

Career

Are you willing to put your career on hold, or scale it down to a part-time position? If this is impractical, could you switch to another field or industry that offers more flexible working hours? You may be fortunate enough to be able to negotiate working from home, or your employer may agree on a period of unpaid leave to assist with major life changes.

Emotional wellbeing

How will you cope with all that’s required of you? You may be part of the ‘sandwich’ generation that looks after children as well as elderly parents, making life doubly stressful. If you have siblings or close family members, are they in a position to help in emergencies?

Elderly man with family

Decision time

On the positive side, some carers say they are happy they’ve taken on this rewarding full-time role and admit it’s brought them closer to their loved one.

 If you think that becoming a full-time carer is the right choice for you, comprehensive information is available at Carers Australia and My Aged Care.

Some carers say they are happy they’ve taken on this rewarding full-time role and admit it’s brought them closer to their loved one.

If you decide on residential aged care, consider one of Bupa’s Planning Ahead community forums offering advice about care, financial assistance and the special needs of people living with dementia.

Margaret Ryan adds that those contemplating full-time caregiving should also look into respite care.

“There will be times when you desperately need some time off and respite can provide time to relax and recharge the batteries.”

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