LET’S STAND UP FOR CARERS
KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY shares her personal experience with Woman’s Day
My husband John was in intensive care after an accident rendered him quadriplegic. He couldn’t speak so instead he mouthed, “How hard do you want me to try?” We both cried and I reminded him more than 30 years ago I said I would follow him to Antarctica to be with him – and I think this was our Antarctica. Two years on, I adore being with my husband, though being a carer isn’t a job one might always choose. The definition is “to watch over” and “be responsible”. Add deep love, affection, exhaustion, frustration and anger a and it might be closer to a day d in the life of a carer. Recen Recently I attended a Wayne Grad Grady golf event to raise aw awareness and money for c carers, especially young c carers – 400,000 young people take on this role each year. While many older carers (3 million, in fact) do gladly enjoy l looking after a partner, el elderly parents or children with needs, some teenagers don’t have a choice.
I met Sarah, who’s been a full-time carer for her mother since she was 12 years old. Her stepfather left and she had to take on the household, including her siblings with special needs.
She’s 19 now, and has had little real life or social activity. Her friends at school never really understood her situation.
Somehow, her mother made sure she finished school at 17 but her life has been caring. No real choice, just responsibility, and she’s mature beyond her years. Through The Carers Foundation she’s attended a retreat, which gives respite with others her age. It’s a job no child should have thrust upon them, but a job no one else will do.
Some young ones admit they’ve never known happiness or joy – no parties, fun, dressing up or doing normal teenage things. Their mental health is at risk.
As an adult I know how demanding the role is, but I’m lucky to have a husband I love. And Digger, our golden retriever, is added unconditional love and tries to help. I find it tragic to imagine children as young as eight, who’ve had to give up their life for their family… Volunteers with no choice.
Kerri-anne is a full-time carer for her husband John, who’s a quadriplegic following a fall in 2016.