Carers play an important role in the lives of older people living in the community. Many nonprofessional caregivers – spouses, adult children, other relatives and friends – find taking care of an older person to be a satisfying and enriching experience, but the responsibilities and demands of caregiving, which escalate as the older person's condition deteriorates, can also be extremely stressful.
This can lead to emotional and physical health problems that can burnout many caregivers; they may become impatient and ultimately more susceptible to perpetrating elder abuse and neglect.
Carer stress factors
Lack of choice
Many carers feel they have little or no choice in taking on the caring role. They may sometimes feel trapped and resentful.
Conflict and frustration
Relationships can change under the pressures of illness and adversity. This may lead to increased levels of conflict and frustration. A carer may even be caring for someone with whom they have always had a difficult relationship.
Lack of support
Many carers feel alone and unsupported. They may find it hard to access services and supports that meet the needs of the older person and their family. They may also hope that family members and friends could provide support.
Carers can become socially isolated because of their caring role. They may have to give up their job, or it might be harder to leave the house to visit friends and do the activities they enjoy.
What you can do as a carer to prevent elder abuse
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the demands of caring for an older person, you can:
- Request help from friends, relatives, or local respite services so you can take a break
- Stay healthy and get medical care for yourself when necessary
- Find a support group for caregivers of the elderly – visit: https://www.carersnsw.org.au/how-we-help
- Adopt stress reduction practices
- Seek counselling for depression, which, when left untreated, can lead to elder abuse
- If you’re having problems with drug or alcohol dependence, seek assistance
- Call the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline & Resource Unit on 1800 628 221
Caregiver Strain Index
(see PDF attached below)
This easy-to-use tool looks at areas that may impact a carer's wellbeing.