Coping Strategies For Carers
To begin with, it is important to come to terms with the idea that persistent/chronic pain is similar to other chronic illness. Persistent pain must be managed and it is probably not realistic to expect that the pain will go away in the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is an unrealistic goal to hope you can take the pain away from your loved one.
It is difficult for carers to be with someone whom they love who is in pain so you need to take care of yourself on many fronts – emotionally, physically and psychologically so that you remain strong for the long term. Carers Australia has a range of information about the resources and information available.
Balance – Do something apart from the person in pain; something you enjoy, find interesting or relaxing, recognizing that each needs time to maintain a sense of self.
Encouragement – Encourage each other to do something pleasurable each day. Often people in pain drop all enjoyable activities because of the pain but being able to give full attention to a task in positive ways can help with distracting the pain – no matter how short the activity is at first. This could be picking flowers, going outdoors or a favourite film.
Talk with others – it might be the frustrations of feeling you always have to be the decision maker or communicating pain levels and treatment plans with doctors. There is a Carer Support Program in many local areas. See Carers Australia in the Support Contacts for Carers of this website.
Look after your health – Take the time to have regular check-ups with your doctor so any problems can be caught early. Taking time out to attend to your wellbeing is not a luxury – it's a necessity.
Self identify - as a carer. Even if you are still able to work there are likely to be programs and services that can help eg Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres provide free and confidential information about community care services available locally. Call 1800 052 222. Seek out new resources and information, because being a caregiver is being recognized as the important job that it is.
Stay social – care giving can be isolating and friends and family may not always know how to help. Be open and frank about the type and length of social activities the person in pain can do without unduly increasing the pain. Be open to also going out on your own to participate in social activities at times.
Accept help – Superman and Wonder woman aren't human. Governments offer services such as Home and Community Care and friends and family members may help if they know what is needed. Offer concrete examples of how others can lend a hand. Sometimes, having one less job to do can ease the stress. Ring Pain Link-1300 340 357 for information and support.
Financial stress – Lifeline 13 11 14 have trained financial counsellors available and you can remain anonymous. They are able to provide other contact numbers if needed. As with medical matters, it is usually better to get financial assistance as soon as the problem emerges. Most state and territory governments have consumer financial advisory services available.