Recharging the batteries

Aged Care Respite Services

Taking regular breaks is an important part of caring for a frail, older family member.

“Honestly, regular breaks are essential,” said Jane Gray, who has been caring full-time for her 85 year old mother for the past seven years.

“The support I get from Anglicare is just amazing,” said Jane. “The workers come here Monday to Friday and give Mum a shower. That makes a huge difference, it really does”.

Then, three times a week, Anglicare supports Jane to have a break from her caring role.

“When I have respite I can do something for me –have a swim, do aqua aerobics, visit an op shop,” said Jane. “The part of respite I really appreciate is that it is ‘me’ time. It gives me a chance to recharge the batteries”.

“I am a better carer for my Mum for being out of the house for those hours,” she said.

Jane’s mother, Betty Sparkes, was diagnosed with dementia eleven and a half years ago. “The plan was that Dad would sell the farm and buy a house and we’d both help to take care of Mum” Jane said. “But Dad was killed in a car accident just before he was ready to move into the house”. Mrs Sparkes lived at a nursing home until Jane was in a position to become her full-time carer.

Mrs Sparkes has Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH), where cerebrospinal fluid accumulates and causes the ventricles in the brain to become enlarged. This condition causes symptoms of gait disturbances, dementia and impaired bladder control.

“Living with me, Mum feels secure and loved and all her needs are met,” said Jane. “She’s doing really well and health wise it has been a great benefit to her”.

Jane said she felt confident to use Anglicare’s respite service because the support workers were familiar with her mother’s health conditions and daily routine. “Because Mum has dementia, it is important that things are done the same way so she doesn’t get confused or anxious,” she said. “Mum knows the Anglicare workers and they know the right prompts to use as they care for her. For example, Mum might take a sip of a drink then put the cup down. If you use the words ‘have a little bit more Betty’, she will continue to drink. She responds to that phrase, but not to others”.

“Because we see the Anglicare workers regularly, Mum knows by their voice who is there”.

“I have a good relationship and communication with Anglicare and recommend them to anybody looking for support at home”.

Jane said her Mum was no longer mobile or communicating verbally. “Mum needs support with every aspect of life now,” she said. “It is 24/7”.

“The best thing about being a carer is that I’ve come to really appreciate my Mum for what she’s done for me over the years,” she said. “There’s been that connection again with my mother which has been really important. I think being her carer has made me a little bit more tolerant and understanding”.

Jane said her advice to anyone taking on a caring role was to “find good support”.

“Get as much information as you can,” she said. “Do the research and you’ll find out what’s available and what you’re entitled to. There is lots of assistance out there for you, so make use of it”.

“We all need support from other people – so don’t be afraid to ask for help”.

Anglicare has a range of respite options including a day-centre, in-home respite or residential respite. For more information, contact Anglicare on 1800 243 232.

Find out more about Anglicare’s Aged and Home Care services.

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