You may become a Carer with little warning because of a sudden illness or accident or you may take on the role gradually, with caring tasks becoming more complex as time passes; for example, as the person you care for becomes older and more frail. While Carers have many things in common, each caring situation is unique and is experienced by the carer and the person for whom they are caring in different ways.
Adjusting to a caring role takes time and can change your life a lot. There are many things to consider and learn. Most aspects of daily life can be affected in either positive or negative ways. For example, division of household tasks, your relationships with family, friends and the person you care for, your role in the family and finances and work, can all be affected.
Your working life may need to change. You may have to give up full or part-time work or stop work altogether. This can change the way you see or feel about yourself: For example, if you were the main income earner, living on a Carers Payment may be difficult and challenging.
If you are retired and looking after a long term partner, long established roles may even be reversed; a husband may find he is doing all the cooking and cleaning; a wife, the lawn mowing and finances - or maybe vice versa!
Young Carers may find their role impacts on school/study, social life and leisure activities such as sport.
Though many Carers take on their role willingly and feel privileged to care for the person they love, they may still feel they had little choice and are burdened at times. Some feel they have no choice and have been pressured by others to care for an abusive parent or neighbour who has no family supports.
In any circumstance, you may become overwhelmed and need more support than family and friends can provide. Sorting out what other supports are available can be confusing as, for example, you learn about waiting lists and eligibility criteria for services you need. But remember, Carers should be respected and have rights to assistance and support in carrying out their role.
Carers Australia provides good information for new Carers on their "Surviving the Maze" website. See Series 1 - Caring for an Older Person - although this series targets caring for older people most of the content is very relevant to other caring roles:
Surviving the Maze