Laughter and talking to other people helps when caring role ends

Friendship and support from carer groups were a great source of comfort to Rae after her husband passed away.

Rae cared for her husband, John, for more than four years before he passed away in January 2013 following his struggle with Lewy body disease, a common form of dementia. 

In the early stages of John’s dementia, Rae was put in touch with Carer Support through a contact at an art gallery where she was a member. Rae felt out of place at first, but it didn’t take long for the other carers and staff to reassure her that she was in the right place.

“Initially I didn’t think I did enough to be a carer, but after attending a couple of groups, I quickly realised that I did need the help,” admits Rae.

“We cried a lot and we laughed a lot – both these things helped us continue caring and they helped in the years after we’d stopped caring.”

Rae attended carer groups regularly over the years where she was able to benefit from the advice and help of other carers who were in similar caring situations. She also attended several Carer Support retreats, which gave her a break from her intensive caring role and a chance to recharge her batteries. She says that she was able to return to her caring role feeling refreshed after the retreats.

Rae and John were married for nearly 50 years and theirs was a special marriage. Rae describes John as having been “a gentleman”. 

“He was a strong, practical man; he was someone who could take care of anything. But he was also kind and respectful towards others. The grandkids just adored him,” says Rae.

When John lost his battle with dementia, Rae continued to attend the monthly carer groups where she found that other carers were also experiencing the loss of loved ones and struggling to get used to not being carers anymore. Her advice to other carers who experience the loss of a loved one is to maintain their involvement in regular groups or events.

“Everyone is different, but I would tell other carers to continue going to groups until they’re ready to stop. It took me four years before I felt normal and even now I still attend a monthly carer group,” says Rae.

Rae also began volunteering at Carer Support so that she could “pay it forward” by helping other carers and she now attends the monthly On the Buses social outings for seniors.

“I’m very grateful to Carer Support and to the person who recommended them. It’s the laughter and the talking to other people that really helps.”

If you think mixing with a group of other carers could help you, call us on 8433 9555 or browse our events page to find a group that appeals to you.

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