1. How can I best care for my family member who needs my help?
To find out how to best care for your family member you will need information about their disability/illness and practical tips from a professional. It might also be a good idea to write a list of all the things you want to know about your family member’s health and how to best help them. Then ask your family member if you can come with them next time they go to the doctor so you can ask them your questions.
2. How do I access immediate help if needed?
It’s important to have the contact details of a neighbour, relative or family friend that you can call in case of an emergency. If the situation is serious and immediate help is needed then you need to do the following:
1) Medical emergency
If a family member or you suddenly becomes very ill or badly hurt then immediate help may be needed. The best thing to do is call 000 and let the person who answers know exactly what the situation is, your phone number and address. They will probably send out an ambulance. Calls to 000 are free.
2) Suicide risk
If you or someone you know is feeling very depressed and thinking about taking their own life then immediate help is needed. The best thing to do is speak to a crisis counsellor – Lifeline (13 11 14) or Kids Help Line (1800 551 800) can be called at any time of the night or day.
3) Other emergencies – fire, violence
Other situations that may need immediate help are the danger of fire in your home, or the threat of violence towards you or another family member by somebody else. In either of these situations call 000. Calls to 000 are free. You will need to let the person who answers the phone know about the situation, your telephone number and address. The police or the fire brigade will probably be sent out.
3. How do I cope with the lack of attention at home?
All of us want attention from our parents. It helps us to feel loved and wanted. When there’s someone in the family who is unwell or disabled, often they end up getting a lot more attention than others. This can sometimes leave us feeling angry, jealous or sad. The important thing to remember is that even when our parents are busy they still love us.
If you would like to have more ‘you’ time with your parents you might want to try talking to them about how you feel. You could perhaps even suggest some activities that you could do together just one on one.
If they don’t seem to understand, then it might help to talk to someone else you feel safe with. This could be a youth worker, school counsellor, trusted friend or Kids Helpline (1800 551 800).
4. How can I cheer people up when they’re feeling blue?
Everyone has bad days now and then and feels a bit blue. When someone starts to feel blue most of the time this is more serious and is often called depression. How other people feel is out of your control. The only thing you can really do is let them know that you care and where they can find help. Youth Beyond Blue is great website that has useful information about feeling blue and depression – check it out!
5. How do I make friends?
Friends are an important part of life. A good friend will there for the fun times as well as the tough times. When we have tricky things happening at home often we may feel tired and stressed. This can make it hard to reach out to others and sometimes it can make it hard for us to be a good friend ourselves. We may feel that others don’t understand and we can find it difficult to have fun or be carefree when there’s so much on our mind. You can visit ReachOut and type making friends in the search bar and you’ll find lots of good tips. You might also find that it’s easier to be friends with other people who understand what you’re going through. You can meet up with other young carers by attending young carer activity days. Check out the Events section for upcoming activities.
6. How should I react when people stare at my disabled sister?
The best way to deal with this is to talk to other people who understand and let your feelings out. A good way to do this is to write a story or poem about how you are feeling and share it with other young carers in Young Carer Voices.
7. How do I let others know how special my sister is? (she is not ‘weird’)
Everyone is special and has the right to be treated well. If other people don’t treat someone you love with the respect they deserve, it can be very frustrating & upsetting. The best thing you can do is to lead by example – when you, your sister and your friends are together, treat your sister in the way that you would like other people to.
8. How can I deal with stress? What are some good ways to relax?
Caring for another person is not always easy. You may have lots of things to think about and lots of feelings that you may find tricky to deal with. This can lead to stress. If you are stressed you might show some of these signs:
If you are stressed then you need to take a break. Check out these tips:
Talking about how you feel is also important. Find a teacher, youth worker, school counsellor or friend you trust to talk to. You might want to talk about this with other young carers at the Young Carer Forum or read a bit more in the Stress Less section.