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Caring for someone

A carer is often also a family member. Sometimes the shift from family member to carer can put undue pressure on the relationship with the person for whom you are caring.

Psychologists are able to provide strategies and relationship counselling to assist you in strengthening and maintaining your relationship.

It is essential that you continue to look after your own well-being so you can continue to be a carer to your family member. You may need strength and stamina to assist the person with daily tasks, getting around or personal care. If you are prone to injuries, aches and pains, an exercise physiologist can provide exercises to help build your strength and fitness and help you manage the physical demands of caring. They can also provide advice and suggestions to help you live an active and healthy life and ensure that you care for your own wellbeing as well as the person you are caring for.

There may be times when your role as a carer leads to some stress and difficulty coping. If this is the case, a psychologist can listen to your experiences and support you to develop strategies for managing stress.

You may need to discuss important or difficult issues with the person you care for. You both might want some support to do this to reduce stress. Some psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists have training to work with families in this way.

Caring for someone is a demanding job and no one is equipped to do it alone. Respite care provides short-term breaks that can relieve stress, restore energy, and promote balance in your life. There is both in-home and out-of-home respite available. A social worker can support you to find and organise the most suitable respite care.

People with a disability may at times demonstrate behaviour that is difficult for the carer to observe (such as self-injurious behaviour) and very hard to manage. You can discuss this with a psychologist as they have training in behavioural interventions. A general approach to behavioural interventions involves identifying a target behaviour, gathering information on its possible triggers, setting up a plan to modify the behaviour over time (including rewarding desirable behaviours) and finally evaluating the success of the intervention.