Monday, October 13, 2014

Carers Week 2014: Why carers are the most important people on the planet

It's Carers Week this week in Australia (Oct 12 - 18), and these are just a few reasons why I believe carers are the most important people on the planet:

- Australia's population currently stands at 22 million*. In 2012, there were 2.7 million people in Australia who were providing informal care to an older person or someone with a disability or long-term health condition, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

(*Australia's population now at 23 million; taken from 'The Australian Ageing Generation Handbook', by Josie Gagliano).

- Dr Paul Jelfs from the ABS says the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers ('SDAC'; 2012) captures important information about caring in our community:

"Carers not only make a huge contribution to the lives of the people that they care for, but they are also essential in supporting the formal care system on Australia"

"Being a carer can be a substantial commitment, with 40 per cent of carers reporting that they spent 40 hours or more per week providing care."

- "Alzheimer's Australia's market research suggests that some 1.2 million Australians are providing support and care for someone with dementia. This can be anything from a bit of shopping to 24/7 care." - Ita Buttrose, foreword from 'The Australian Ageing Generation Handbook', by Josie Gagliano.

"I feel blessed that we were able to share this with her. We got the chance to nurture her as she had nurtured us. We all grew so very much, my sons learned tolerance, patience, compassion and true love for their nan, in good health and bad. As for my husband, I gained a new respect for him, and deeper love as I watched him tenderly care for my mum." - Rosemary, an interview taken the chapter 'My Life As A Carer', from 
'The Australian Ageing Generation Handbook', by Josie Gagliano.

I could go on and on and on. Carers are the lifeblood of our society, people! The impact they have on making your life easier is immense. Have a think about it. If you are a caring for a parent, you are likely taking on the bulk of the role to make life easier for other siblings. That's not why you are doing it; of course. But a by-product of your sacrifices means that everyone in the family gets to enjoy your parent. Carers quietly put their life 'on hold', give up job opportunities, or take infinite sick days, or take annual leave to care for a parent out of hospital and requiring rehab when they get home.

If that person is you, happy Carers Week! You deserve all the fanfare in the world, you deserve to be acknowledged, heck… you even deserve a little break!

If you are supporting someone who is a carer - the carer's husband or wife, sibling or friend - know that the carer you love is very, very special. Don't ever forget it.

So, here's to you, dear carers!

My favourite part of my book 'The Australian Ageing Generation Handbook' is the chapter on carers. I interviewed so many beautiful people, and each story was more emotional than the next. It showed true resilience, grit, heartbreak, honesty; there are deeply upsetting stories, and deeply inspiring stories. And deeply moving stories, and what I hope is that whoever picks it up in a bookstore and has a flick through stops right at THIS chapter and says, "Oh my… this is ME. This is my story!"

If you like, you can buy the book (in-store or online of as e-book) by going to this link.

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