The Huntington's Scene In  New Zealand

Site Maintained by

Graham Taylor

Articles taken from the March 2002  Huntington's News. The Quarterly Newsletter of the Huntington's Disease Associations of New Zealand

Emotional Support for Carers

 by Adam McLean
Counselling Co-ordinator, Carers NSW

 Carers and Hope
What is the importance of hope? Many people understand hope to mean a belief or value, that when expressed openly as a rule or a code of behaviour, gives meaning to a person's life. This view certainly suggests that hope is an essential part of being human. It can be experienced in relation to the person you care for, others, in the broader aspects of life and especially yourself.

 In the context of caring, hope helps the carer to get through those times when they feel as if they can't go on, that they are overwhelmingly tired and exhausted. Often carers share with us their feeling of being abandoned. This is often alluded to in the way the carer perceives that some professionals, service providers, friends and family members have treated them. Abandonment brings feelings of isolation, aloneness and hopelessness. For the carer, maintaining a sense of hope is crucial to the coping process. Hope provides the carer with a sense of control; purpose and meaning and for some, a sense of happiness in knowing that what they do benefits the person that they care for.

"For the carer, maintaining a sense of hope is crucial to the coping process."

 When a carer speaks of being unable to go on, that there seems to be no point to anything any longer, or that they feel trapped or abandoned, it is usually a good point to begin to explore where their sense and understanding of hope is at. This is often complex or difficult for the carer to define. If this is the case for you, perhaps a good place to begin is to start to remember what you have achieved in the past and under what circumstances? What strategies worked for you and how you could use similar strategies or adapt them to the present? Hope can also be associated with an optimism that is based on practicality and a rational appraisal of your capabilities, under whatever circumstances you find yourself. Hope reveals your values and priorities in life and is a mix of your wishes, needs, sense of longing, frustration and pain.

 Hope is drawn on past events and experiences. It is lived in the present but focused on the future. When all else fails, draw on those aspects of yourself, including your wishes, needs, desires and those situations in your life that you know have provided you with a sense of passion and anticipation of the possible. To have hope that change is possible and the need to hold on to that hope is a quality that is part of being human.

 Reference:
Briton. C (2000) "Themes on Hope and Living with a Life-threatening Illness". The Journal of the Australian Association of Social Workers. March Vol 53:1
Darlington. Y and Bland. R (1999) "Strategies for Encouraging and Maintaining Hope Among People Living with a Serious Mental Illness". The Journal of the Australian Association of Social Workers. Sept Vol 52:3 pp 17-23
Acknowledgement: Carers News NSW September 2001.