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A million reasons to care this National Carers Week

THERE are a million reasons to be a carer, and for Midway Point resident Mary Donovan, being a carer for husband Bruce is born out of love.

Mary is just one of 2.65 million Australians who provided informal care in 2020, and one of more than 80,100 primary carers in Tasmania.

Speaking during National Carers Week 2021, Carers Tasmania chief executive officer David Brennan said a carer was someone who provided unpaid care to another person with a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, life limiting condition, alcohol or drug dependence, or who were frail aged.

“Nationally, 2.2 billion hours of unpaid care is provided every year and in 96 per cent of cases it’s family providing that care,” he said.

“Carers Week is a time to recognise and celebrate the people who are often invisible and hidden in our community.

“The theme for this year is ‘Millions of Reasons to Care’, which signifies that each carer has a different reason to care for an individual – there’s millions of reasons.”

Ten years ago, Bruce Donovan was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, a genetic degenerative brain disorder that causes nerve cells in the brain to break down over time.

This means that he has lost a lot of muscle tone and struggles to walk, use his hands and engage in everyday activities.

Mary has provided care for Bruce over these years in numerous aspects of everyday life.

“My responsibilities include helping him with everyday activities and his general hygiene – I shower him, shave him, cut his hair, prepare meals and cut up his food, do puzzles and activities with him, take him to appointments, visit family and friends, and do the family finances,” she said.

“The hardest part of being a carer is the physical drain because carers get very tired in their roles.

“We’ve been married for 48 years and we’ve had seven children.

“We have each other and we have family around to support us.”

Mrs Donovan said Carers Week was about celebrating the role of carers and raising more awareness of the role carers played in the community.

“It’s important for the community to understand what people are going through, both carers and the people who are being cared for,” she said.

“I’m very involved in the community, but generally people don’t know what carers are going through just to make each day happen smoothly.

“By talking with other carers, you always find out something you didn’t know or something that you’re interested in hearing more about.”

Sorell local Aly Mellor has cared for her husband David, who has bipolar and severe anxiety and depression, for the past 18 years.

Mrs Mellor said she provided constant support to David, helping minimise panic attacks, making sure he took his medication properly and helping him walk, among other responsibilities.

“As a carer, you’re an advocate, you’re an accountant, you’re a nurse, you’re a cleaner, you’re a cook – you’re everything,” she said.

“Carers Week brings the role of carers to the attention of the public and it’s a brilliant opportunity for carers to connect with other carers.”

National Carers Week ran until Saturday 16 October with a number of events held throughout the week across the state.

If you are needing support as a carer, visit carergateway.gov.au.

For more information about National Carers Week, visit www.carerstas.org.