Take care of your­self and loved ones

The Advertiser - - BOOMER HEALTH - CLARE PEDDIE SCI­ENCE RE­PORTER

CAR­ING for a loved one in the fam­ily home can be tir­ing and stress­ful, but there are ser­vices in­creas­ingly of­fer­ing sup­port, re­lief and respite.

Vince Zollo, 75, has been at­tend­ing the ECH Overnight Respite Cen­tre and Day Pro­gram at Hen­ley Beach since Fe­bru­ary, giv­ing his wife, Anna, a much-needed break.

“I couldn’t do with­out it, be­cause it’s like hav­ing some­one with you, walk­ing through this process, help­ing you along,” Mrs Zollo says.

“Help­ing him and help­ing me – I think it’s mar­vel­lous.”

Mr Zollo suf­fered a stroke three years ago, which af­fected the left side of his body, his vi­sion and mem­ory.

He’s very happy to go to ECH for six days and one night ev­ery week, where he says “they spoil me”.

Mean­while Mrs Zollo can do what she needs to do to keep the house in or­der.

Car­ers tend to ne­glect their own health and well­be­ing.

A pop­u­la­tion-based cross­sec­tional sur­vey in SA found in­for­mal (fam­ily) car­ers were more likely to re­port chronic con­di­tions, psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress and dis­abil­ity, and to per­ceive their health sta­tus as poor to fair than non-car­ers.

Car­ers were more likely to have di­a­betes, asthma and arthri­tis, plus risk fac­tors such as smok­ing, raised choles­terol and high blood pres­sure.

The Univer­sity of Ade­laide and UniSA study, pub­lished in the jour­nal BMJ Open, called for “more ap­pro­pri­ate dis­ease man­age­ment strate­gies that are spe­cific to car­ers”.

ECH chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr David Pan­ter says the respite ser­vice at Hen­ley Beach was de­vel­oped and co-de­signed with fam­i­lies specif­i­cally for peo­ple liv­ing with de­men­tia.

“We’ve cre­ated that ser­vice to be as con­ve­nient and fam­ily-friendly as pos­si­ble in re­sponse to what those peo­ple were telling us they wanted,” he says. “We started at Hen­ley Beach to see how it would go and now that it has been suc­cess­ful, we are look­ing to repli­cate that in other lo­ca­tions.”

Dr Pan­ter says the fo­cus at ECH was on en­abling peo­ple to live in­de­pen­dently at home.

“We are look­ing at a range of other ser­vices that will en­able fam­i­lies to feel more con­fi­dent that they can cope and that their loved one is able to cope liv­ing at home much, much longer,” he says.

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