Care for the carers
By MEL MARTIN
AFTER more than 50 years of marriage, Irene Yandell was not about to put her husband into care when a stroke deprived him of his independence.
Since the stroke, four years ago, Charles Yandell has been unable to look after himself and Irene has been his primary carer.
But, while Irene would never have considered placing Charles in permanent care, caring for someone full time is a big burden, and she is grateful for the assistance available to carers.
"Being able to get respite and home care has been absolutely wonderful to me. Without it, I couldn't have looked after my husband," she said.
"Charles goes to the Waratah Respite Centre for a few hours each week and the people there are delightful. When he comes back he has stories to tell, which is very important as we're not able to mix with the world much.
"It's a very lonely existence. All you have are these people who come and help, and that's how I keep going."
Neighbour Aid sends someone once a week to chat with Charles, and he regularly goes to the hydrotherapy pool at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
"They're so kind to him. They only used to have one chair to wheel people down the ramp, so with the Order of the Eastern Star, we organised fundraising and bought them another chair."
Irene also gets help with domestic duties through Home Care Services, and the Royal Blind Society sends Charles talking books.
"I'm 76, and not so agile anymore, but all these little things make my life a bit easier," she said.
"Charles is an amazing man. He left school at the age of 14 and retired the director of a company. He was also a talented painter, now he can't even hold a brush.
"I'm sad every day, but we've had a wonderful life."
For carers of older people wanting to stay at home, assistance includes housework, laundry service, personal care, overnight care, respite care, home modifications, library services, and meal delivery. But waiting lists sometimes apply.
Coffs Harbour City Council produces booklets outlining services in the area and how to contact them: Home Care and Community Care Services Directory, Information Directory for Older People, and Coffs Harbour Healthy Lifestyle Directory. Pick up a copy from the council or order one by calling 6648 4000.
Commonwealth Carelink Centres (1800 052 22) and Seniors Information Services (131244) provide information on local health and community services.
Carers' Resource Centres (1800 242 636) and Carers' Respite Centres (1800 059 059) provide information on assistance available to carers, and Centrelink (132 717) can help with information on financial assistance.