connectEDspace - support for young people

Young people can face all sorts of pressures – including problems at school, with friends or at home.
connectEDspace is a website by Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV), dedicated to young people to help provide all the information they need to deal with the stuff they go through each day.

Aboriginal Family and Relationship Support


RAV provides support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and individuals to help strengthen family relationships.

Counselling provides an opportunity to talk with a professionally trained person to discuss couple issues, conflicts with friends, relationship breakdown, parenting, domestic violence, anxiety, depression, grief, sexual problems, childhood sexual abuse, stress and work related tensions and disputes.

visit deadlyrav.com.au

The transition to becoming a carer can be sudden, or it can happen gradually over time. It can be through necessity or by choice, and last for a short period of time, or for months or years. Those who take on the role of caring for an older person are usually spouses or adult children. They are often responsible for managing the activities associated with the older person’s physical and emotional care, as well as medical and financial issues.

Although caring for others can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience, it can also take a toll on the carer’s health, employment, finances and relationships.

Having strong personal and social relationships is vital to maintaining a carer’s wellbeing. The good news is that help is available to support both the carer and those being cared for.

Taking control

Being a carer often involves dealing with uncertainty and problem solving on a daily basis.

Finding out about helpful and effective services ahead of time can increase your confidence and ability to find solutions when you need them.

There is growing recognition of the value and importance of carers. Victorian Government policies emphasise carer’s rights and promote increased support networks.

Finances

There are significant costs involved in caring for another person, which can also include a loss of income.

If you have concerns about finances, a financial counsellor may be helpful in developing a sustainable plan.

  • Financial Counselling Victoria provides a free and confidential service. Call (03) 9553 3227 or visit their website.
  • The Department of Human Services website provides information on carer payments and allowances. Visit their website.

Health care

Health care professionals can help to address the concerns of both older people and carers, including a carer’s wellbeing and ability to manage situations.

They are valuable sources of information about what to do and where to go for help with medical issues that may arise.

Respite care

As a carer, having a support network is vital, particularly when dealing with challenging behaviours or aggression.

It is not unusual for carers to feel overwhelmed, guilty or resentful because of the demands placed on them. This is often an indication that their responsibilities are taking a toll and they may need a break. Unfortunately though, this is not always recognised until people reach breaking point.

Respite care gives carers the opportunity to take a break from their caring responsibilities. It can be informally given at home by family and friends, or more structured respite services are available. Services that provide meaningful support and activities for the person in care, rather than purely respite care, may be most helpful.

Advance planning

Future decision-making can seem overwhelming when your time and energy are focused on everyday caregiving responsibilities, so it’s important to be prepared and informed about legal and medical options early on. Some common legal documents to assist carers are:

  • Enduring Power of Attorney: This document formally appoints another person(s) to make financial and/or personal decisions on another person’s behalf. It allows caregivers to undertake tasks such as contacting government agencies, paying bills and attending medical appointments.
  • Advanced Health Directive (AHD): The AHD is a legal document that enables the person in care to give instructions about their health care when they are no longer able to do so. The AHD lets the person in care continue to influence treatment decisions, even if they are not able to actively participate in the decision-making process. When it is required, the AHD informs decisions and takes pressure off family members to make difficult choices.

General information on legal and financial matters is available from the following websites.

Self-care

Even though you’re caring for someone else, it’s important to take care of yourself as well. The caring relationship involves two people with equal needs.

Use every resource available to look after yourself, particularly as your time becomes more valuable. Keep the following tips in mind.

  • Be realistic about what you can achieve. Don’t overwhelm yourself - wearing yourself out isn’t helpful. Maintain social relationships and activities as much as you can. Remember, what’s good for you outside your role as a carer will help you in your caring role.
  • Connect with other carers. Support from other caregivers can provide reassurance that what you are feeling and experiencing is normal. If you feel like you don’t have time for this face-to-face, an online support group or telephone helpline could help.
  • Focus on acceptance, love and humour. These make caregiving meaningful and can help to make the difficult times more bearable.
  • Get a support buddy. Consider asking a friend or family member to check in with you on a regular basis. They can often be a fresh set of eyes that help you decide if you need more support.
  • Take care of your health. Getting enough rest, feeding your body with nutritious foods, exercising and getting regular check-ups can keep you from burning out or becoming depressed.

Don’t give up on getting help. It’s important to realise you’re not alone. Whether it’s family or friends, trained professionals and organisations, or local and national support services, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

When times get tough

Even the most resilient carers can sometimes feel that it’s hard to cope. Working with a counsellor may be helpful in dealing with these feelings, developing coping strategies, or working through other challenges such as family conflict and isolation.

For some, these feelings and experiences can lead to problems with depression or anxiety. Common symptoms include constant worrying about the future, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, low energy, and feelings of helplessness or hopelessness.

If you are experiencing symptoms that are having a negative effect on your physical or mental health, talk to your General Practitioner (GP) about your concerns. GPs can also refer you to a psychologist for counselling through a Mental Health Plan, which is funded by Medicare.

Some carers find that the constant stress of caring leads to a loss of patience, which can result in the physical or emotional mistreatment of older people.

If this starts happening for you, seek help straight away. There are a range of confidential and non-judgemental services available to support carers and those being cared for in these situations.

Family support

The pressures of caregiving can often strain family relationships. It often falls on one family member to take primary responsibility for caring, while others may offer support from the sidelines.

When negotiating family conversations about caregiving and responsibilities, keep the following things in mind.

  • Communication, rather than expectations, is key. Don’t wait for others to offer help, or expect they will know what to do without being asked. Other family members may think you are coping fine, or may not be sure what they should or can do.
  • Decide specifically what you need help with. For example, arranging or attending doctor’s appointments, or having a break each week. Have clear goals and specific requests. This is usually better received by others and much easier to achieve.
  • Be patient. Keep in mind that when a family member is ageing, there is often confusion, anxiety and stress for all family members involved.

Relationships Australia Victoria provides counselling and mediation services for individuals, couples and families. Our services can assist in facilitating conversations between older adults, carers and other family members to explore options and make decisions regarding family arrangements and healthcare services. For more on our senior relationship services, click here.

Download a PDF copy of this tipsheet.