A carer is usually an upaid family member or friend who provides support to children or adults who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition or who are frail and aged. Often the family member or friend steps in because they feel obliged to do so, because they are available or because it suits everyone involved at the time.
A person may be considered a carer before the person requiring care is officially diagnosed with blindness or low vision. In this case they may be eligible to receive support such as counselling. For more information, contact the Carer Gateway Australia.
The time a person cares for another can vary from a few hours a week to every day of the week.
A carer’s tasks
There are many roles for a carer and these can change over time. Activities associated with being a carer for a person who is blind or has low vision include:
- Helping to access community services
- Helping to maintain hobbies and leisure activities
- Reading bills and mail
- Cooking, cleaning or other forms of help within the home
- Using the telephone
- Helping to use the computer or adaptive technology for reading
- Guiding the person when in the home and the community
When first becoming a carer, it may be useful to:
- Avoid making any quick decisions regarding employment, future plans or lifestyle
- Seek advice from all available sources
- Remain in contact with social and recreational networks
- Access counselling if necessary
- Develop new coping skills
- Acknowledge and allow time for feelings that may arise
- Take time out to think calmly and quietly
- Talk to carer service providers
“My Mum was fine on her own until two years ago when her vision deteriorated because of age-related macular degeneration. Now I visit her three times a week after I finish work and on the weekends. I read her mail and make sure that she has what she needs, and when we go food shopping I help her to read the labels on jars, cans and packets.” Sue
Check My Macula
As a carer, it is important to look after your own health. If you are caring for a family member, it is particularly important to pay attention to your eye health, as many macular diseases have a hereditary component. Are you at risk of macular disease? Visit www.CheckMyMacula.com.au to find out your main risk factors for macular disease.
Check My Macula is an initiative of Macular Disease Foundation Australia.