In ‘The making of Mycare’ Mycare co-founder Laurie Hilsgen reveals how she became a carer unexpectedly in her early thirties. Here she gives advice on how to maintain your own health and wellbeing while taking responsibility for someone else’s.
“You can become a family carer gradually as a loved one’s condition worsens, or overnight, as I did for my partner after his stroke when I was 32. Like so many carers, I had no personal experience of supporting someone who needed 24/7 assistance with all tasks of daily life. Here are a few of the lessons I learned:
- If you provide significant support for someone else, you need to make caring for yourself a priority too. Find out what help is available, and accept it so you don’t burn out. You can call Carers NZ on 0800 777 797 to request a free information pack to learn about what help is out there.
- Take regular breaks, so you can keep going. This might be spending five minutes a day in the garden, or having a week away so you can fully recharge. I didn’t give myself a respite break for five years, which is something I really regret, as it took a serious toll on my own physical and mental health.
- Build a good support team. Mycare is a great way to find people who can provide practical care and, equally importantly, people you ‘click’ with. It can feel as though you have no control over what’s happening if someone is unwell or has ongoing support needs, but with Mycare, you’re in complete control of who comes into your home, when, and what they do for you. I’d have loved it to have existed when I was organising care for my partner in rural Northland.
- Be nice to yourself. You’re doing your best, and you can’t do it alone. Accept help, and on bad days, know that there will also be good days.
- Although the future may seem scary, try to find moments of celebration in each day. As my partner’s multi-infarct dementia progressed, he could no longer walk, see, or hold a conversation. Our happiest moments – before I accepted I could no longer care well for him at home – were simple ones: sitting on the garden swing, holding hands, no words necessary. Find time for those moments. You’ll never forget them.”
Mycare’s workers provide all kinds of affordable services to help you care for your loved one – from as little as an hour or two to as much as you need. To find out more, log in to check out available workers in your area, call our Customer Success Team on 0800 677 700, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.