Mr Mans Wife has written a very thoughtful post: Solidarity, about the isolation of carers and the serious lack of carer blogs in the blogosphere. As a very new blogger I am always on the lookout for other carer blogs. So please leave me a comment if you have a blog so I can find you. For me reading about carers ups and downs helps me feel like I am not so alone.
The latest statistics for Australian carers are from 2003. At that time 13% of the population identified as being carers. Over 75% of carers are still in the workforce. In total 54% of carers are women, but in the 25-65 age group, women carers far outweigh men. For employed carers, most are part-time with difficulty arranging alternative care and work hours identified as the main barriers to employment.
The physical and emotional effects of caring include: feels satisfied, feels worried or depressed, stress related illness, weary or lacks energy, well being affected, angry or resentful. The survey reports that over 72% report one of more of these effects. Unfortunately they do not give the breakdown for each effect which would be much more useful information.
One quarter of carers report losing contact with friends, and 14% feel they spend less time with other family members as a result of caring responsibilities.
For me caring has completely changed my life, and not really for the better. It has cost me thousands of dollars, caused a large amount of stress and worry. I have been diagnosed with 2 stress related illness' in the last 8 months. It has caused family conflict, less contact with friends, loss of freedom to pursue my own interests. I have had to close my business which was a goal I had worked toward for many years. My income is almost halved now.
On the up side I get to spend time with my mum, to care for her, to have magic moments that I wouldn't want to miss with her. I suppose what I am saying is that being a carer changes your life. Not always in ways that are positive, and then in unexpected ways that are wonderful. It is a complicated business this caring. I personally have found that only other carers understand the roller coaster of emotions and the frequent internal conflict I experience.