Caring for a loved one?

Caring for a loved one, I am. See my story here – https://www.carergateway.gov.au/rachels-story

Are you caring for a loved one?

Caregivers are the family members and friends who help their loved ones with a range of tasks from paying bills or driving to doctors, to personal care such as bathing and dressing, to medical care such as administering medication.

“Caregivers often find themselves in this role without preparation or education and all while juggling their own lives,” said United Way Caregivers Coalition Manager Robin Ennis. “Caregivers within our communities should have access to the supports and resources they need to sustain themselves as caregivers.”

Resources help you care for your loved one

Resources help unpaid caregivers who assist loved ones of any age who are ill, frail or living with a disability or mental illness. Access to explore topics that provide family caregivers with valuable information from local experts and connections to local resources is imperative.

Investigate topics to optimise health whilst caring :

Here is the United Way Caregivers Coalition’s “Pathways for Caregivers” – This free guide contains information, ideas and support for providing care for loved ones. There are separate sections on aging, disabilities, and mental health issues. The guide is available online at www.UnitedWayNNJ.org/CaregiverTools. While written to assist caregivers in the New Jersey (USA) region, much of the contents are applicable to caregivers throughout New Jersey and beyond!

In Australia see CarersNSW

Caring for a loved one.

Being aware of existing resources, even if provided elsewhere, can be beneficial as it initiates the thinking the same resources may be available near you.

Last but not least – self care is pivotal to carer health.

Look after yourself so that you can look after others optimally.

Read – Self care to ensure you remain robust physically and mentally.

Read – Self care – Self care can be 5 minutes with a cup of tea or a date with the hairdresser either way we need to spend a moment on ourselves to ensure we are robust and healthy to meet the demands of our varied roles.

Caring for a loved one?
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Inspirational Women Online Showcase 2019

Inspirational Women Online Showcase 2019
I aim to raise awareness through this online showcase enabling others to positively identify as carers.   

Inspirational Women Online Showcase

I was asked by CarersNSW to make a short video showcasing myself as a carer, aiming to raise awareness of my role, enabling others to positively identify as carers.

The home-made video details my story, highlighting Emily and my health and well-being as individuals. Presenting my book as an achievement within my caring journey. And ultimately inspiring women and girls to see caring as a positive role.

Inspirational Women Online Showcase – Rachel

The Inspirational Women Online Showcase videos touch on the three focus areas of the NSW Women’s Strategy: My video is in – participation and empowerment.

Inspirational Women Online Showcase – Rachel

Hi. I’m Rachel James and I’m a carer.

My daughter, Emily, had a snowboarding accident that rendered her quadriplegic in 2012. Emily’s spinal cord injury was devastating as it changed everything for her, but it also changed my life as I suddenly became her everyday carer.

  • My attitude has been to positively reinforce Emily’s mental strength; she ceased to walk but remains incredibly capable.
  • My task has been to reassure Emily that she can adapt without halting her living life to the full.

My caring role includes:

  • Being a facilitator.
  • I assist and enable Emily.
  • I ensure she has choices, opportunities and makes her own decisions.

I don’t relish Emily being defined by her accident, and I see myself holistically as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, a working registered nurse, a volunteer at lifeline….. AND a carer. 

I retain a clear sense of self, independent with a caring aspect to my life and ensure I practice self care.

I have reflected on what I overcame and learnt during the process of accepting my role as an everyday carer. It was so profound that I wanted to write to others who sadly would walk the same path through trauma. I started a blog journaling my day to day progress.

This blog developed into a book addressing common challenges within trauma, with an empathetic approach to grief, denial, anger and the emotional negotiation process towards acceptance, suggesting coping strategies through each chapter.

It’s 7 years since I became an everyday carer. I have learnt many things but namely that life is a bunch of random events, somethings can’t be fixed. Somethings HAVE to be accepted.

  • To move forward I had to adapt.
  • I learnt that it’s good to talk and I have also learnt it’s good to listen!

I am happy to report that Emily and I have active independent lives, we live along side each other with purpose and worth, joy and love.

I aim to raise awareness through this online showcase enabling others to positively identify as carers.   

Inspirational Women Online Showcase – Rachel

https://www.women.nsw.gov.au/nsw-womens-week/inspirational-women-online-showcase

My video is in – participation and empowerment.

The videos can also be viewed on our Youtube Channel Inspirational Women playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1jKge1cJ7AyqRRN_sv74GpEJ-f0DyUCl

Further Reading – Supporting Carers

Read – Carers – Self Care

Suddenly an Everyday Carer – buy the book

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A little genius can shine through everyday!

I watched The Theory of Everything while on a long haul flight 30,000 metres over Alaska. My lasting impression from the film revolved around the care Stephen Hawking received from his wife, family, friends and colleagues.

The story line I took away from the screen was that Stephen Hawking developed his theories and had the opportunity to expand intellectually contrary to the devastating decline of his body because others cared for him.

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After 5 hours sleep I didn’t want to get out of bed but I’m glad I did ….

I only managed 5 hours sleep last night for various reasons so when the alarm woke me at 6 am, when I looked at the temperature on my iphone, when I did the toe test and it ricocheted back under the doona – everything was telling me stay in bed. But I hastily dressed, slurped tea, fixed my light to my handlebars and opened the garage door.

photo 2 (55)

It crossed my mind to text my cycle buddy that I had had a disturbed night which led me to prioritize sleeping rather than riding. No doubt she would have text-ed back politely. No doubt that staying in bed for another hour would have been warm and snug, but no doubt cycling into the crisp darkness, illuminated only by my lamp’s small circle of light, was the right thing to do.

After a jolly “Hello” for such an early hour we decided on a route and pressed on into the deserted streets and lane-ways. There is something quite unique about being up and out before the world wakes up. Dawn gradually shed its light on our route and our surroundings. The new day showed itself as a clear blue unsullied sky with the weak sunshine of winter bringing little warmth with its rays.  We cycled the perimeter of our local bays and coves, each peninsular has a slope to the water’s edge and a hill back, we tackled our route with zeal as hot coffee beckoned.

As we settled into the cafe booth with our hands cupped around our warming drinks the effort of our early morning exertion was rewarded by our lively chatter. When I get back home I will still have all the washing, I will still have a meal to cook, the car to wash but I’ll be energized by my activity, I’ll be nurtured by my friendships and I’ll be less introspective. I’ll feel healthy and I’ve positively reinforced that I ‘m not an isolated carer but a socially included and engaged friend.

Experiences outside of the home reinforce my sense of self, reinforce my identity, reinforces that Emily and I live together but are individuals. Commitments outside the home assist me in delineating my carer boundaries. I am separate from Emily, we each have different interests and friendship groups.  We each bring something lively to the other by interacting separately. Our relationship would suffer without space, freedom and separateness.

There are pro and cons to road biking but one advantage is it’s an early morning sport and  I can be home before the dog has opened an eyelid or stretched her hind legs, before the morning routine is scheduled.  I have the perfect opportunity to maintain myself without any detrimental effects on the household. I am not suggesting that every carer takes up cycling but I do advocate that carers take some time in their day to do whatever tickles their fancy. I know Emily and I cope better if we have both been out and about and engaged socially. It’s worth getting out of bed………

photo 3 (43)The glorious view this morning!

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Only Through Honesty Can We Share and Support Each Other

I delayed publishing this post for two days as I queried why I  reveal my inner self to the world, why do I feel the necessity to roll over exposing my vulnerable under belly, exposing my human weaknesses as a post on a blog .

On Tuesday evening, while I contemplated publishing, I read my Facebook news where I follow the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation,  there I came upon a request for carers to complete a questionnaire. There were comments as I scrolled down to analyse the relevance of the post to me, a mother had written “it’s not even been 2 years (since the SCI) and I’m exhausted” then another, a partner of a paraplegic, asked for advise “as I’m at a loss and I’m terrified of the future.”

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Thumbs Up and Smile

On Wednesday my cycle buddy and I rode our classic road route. We leave very early in the morning and aim to return before our households miss us. We meet, descend, and climb back up, every hill our locality offers, ridden companionably with our Strava (cycle app on iPhone). Wednesday was a particularly lovely day as the heavy rain that had impeded our Sunday riding schedule had stopped. The spring temperature was perfect, the views of the harbour were mesmerizing, so the slopes didn’t seem so steep.

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