Many carers take on the responsibility of caring for a person with blindness or low vision because they are the only person available and it can feel like there is little choice. In this situation it is important to consider the social, economic and emotional impact so that a realistic care plan can be developed.
Thinking through the process and developing a workable plan will provide for a smooth transition in a changed and personally challenging environment.
Questions to ask before taking on the role of carer:
What does ‘becoming a carer’ mean for me?
What impact will this have on me?
Will I have to give up my job?
Do I have to provide all the care on my own?
Who can help me?
Who can I talk to?
What does a person with low vision need?
What impact will it have on other members of my family, my social life and my health?
Asking questions is a natural and healthy part of the process of becoming a carer.
Answers will come with time by seeking relevant advice, support and information.
There are carer support services which can provide opportunities for carers to talk about issues and the possible social, economic, and emotional impacts.
The social impact of providing care will depend on how much care is required and whether there are multiple carers who share the responsibility. Providing care in any circumstance requires time and energy and can have an impact on family life and social activities.
The level of care to be provided by the carer should be considered carefully. The possible impact on family and social life should be assessed and discussed, with those that it may impact upon, to offer a practical level of a support that is sustainable in the long term.
Key considerations for carers are the age and size of the carer’s family, the family support team surrounding the carer and the needs of the person who requires care.
In some circumstances, carers may be entitled to a carer’s benefit. However, this is not always the case and some carers may not receive adequate financial support for their time in the role. This can have an impact on a carer’s financial status. It can also present a very difficult choice when finances, emotions, loyalties and duty collide.
Limits to finances can place a strain upon the carer. It is important to be aware of the financial implications of being a carer as well as the financial assistance and support that may be available.
Find further information on entitlements and concessions here.
Those who care for a person with low vision can also experience an emotional impact, which can include a range of feelings, especially in the early days, weeks and months. A carer may feel confident, supported, informed and prepared or they may feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped.
The initial diagnosis, along with being asked to provide care, may provoke a period of intense activity where questions are being asked by all involved and information, understanding and solutions are being sought.
Many feelings can arise as a result of the initial experience of the diagnosis of a friend or family member. Negative feelings can also arise as a result of being asked or feeling obliged to provide care and support. In many cases, with careful planning and as practical solutions are found these feelings will be resolved as time passes.
It is critical to be aware of any unresolved negative feelings and to seek advice and support if the situation becomes unduly worrying. It is never too late to consider issues that may have been left unresolved at the beginning of the carer role. Carers Australia is able to provide advice and support to carers and families.