The Importance of Asking for Help as a Carer

According to Carers Victoria, family members who are caring for people, particularly those with mental illness, are reluctant to ask for help. 

Carers Victoria said that this is most often due to the fact that they feel guilty for having to ask for help, as it may appear to others that they see their loved one as a “burden”. As such, the organisation has emphasised how important it is that caregivers know its OK to not feel OK.

Carers can carry out their role better when they have somewhere to turn to for help and support. There are a number of support services available across Australia that have been set up with the purpose of assisting caregivers with their roles. Having a support network behind them, not only benefits the carer, but also the person in their care.

However, many carers simply won’t seek out help.

Why Carers Often Don’t Ask For Help

There are a number of reasons that carers are reluctant to seek out help. Carer Gateway, a division of the Australian government, reported the five most common reasons why carers don’t ask for help:

  1. They Don’t Have Time: Caring is a big role, and many take it on top of other responsibilities such as work or caring for children. As such, it can be difficult for them to find the time to research services and support networks that may benefit them. 
  2. They Don’t Know That Help is Available:Many carers are simply unaware as to what help may be available to them, or they may have very limited knowledge of services in their area and what they do. In Australia, there are hundreds of services, organisations, programs and schemes that have been set up specifically to help caregivers that can be found with a quick internet search. 
  3. They Do Not Know they Are Defined as a Carer: In many cases, a caregiver won’t think of themselves as a carer. They simply think that they are supporting and looking after a loved one who needs assistance. These carers are typically not actively considering their role and as such are not looking for help. This type of carer is also likely to be unaware of the help that is available to them.
  4. They Are Too Proud to Ask for Help: Many people don’t like to admit they need help, or simply do not think that they need it. In some cases, this comes from the person being cared for who doesn’t want to ask for help from strangers because it makes them feel uncomfortable.
  5. They are Too Private to Ask for Help: Some people don’t like to share certain aspects of their life with others. This is particularly true when it comes to personal things like their health or things that are going on in their family.

Why It is so Important for Carers to Seek Help

If some of the above sounds like you, it’s important to be aware that there is help available, and there’s no shame in asking for it. Caregivers that take on too much without support from others are more likely to experience caregiver burnout. This occurs as the emotional and physical energy that is required for caring starts to take its toll on the carer, and they become physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. 

Caregiver burnout is more likely to occur if the carer feels like they are doing everything alone, and they do not have support from other family members, friends, or local organisations. In this instance, the caregivers may forget to take care of themselves and can become depressed, which is of no benefit to the carer or the person in their care. As such, it is vital that carers seek help.

Finding the time in your normal daily routine to research the options available to you may seem difficult, but at the end of the day, it is likely to make your life much easier.

Where Carers Can Go for Help

The following options for support may be available to you. They are all listed on the Carer Gateway website:

  • payments or financial help
  • someone to take over for the carer to have a break
  • help at home
  • equipment to help with caring or making the home safer
  • assistance with transport and travel
  • resources to help you plan for emergencies
  • information to help you plan for the future
  • advice on managing health and behaviour

If you’re a carer looking for support and resources to help with your role, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Brain Sparks. You may be interested in taking part in one of our informative workshops.


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