Merrin is a powerhouse of a woman with a lot more on her plate than most.
Based in Mount Evelyn, she is a wife, mother of two, full-time high school teacher and primary carer to her elderly mother.
On a daily basis Merrin provides incredible care not only to her husband, sons and students but also for her mum Elaine who has Parkinson’s disease.
81-year-old Elaine was diagnosed over six years ago and requires daily assistance with everyday tasks, such as taking medication, travel and booking doctor’s appointments. In conjunction to Parkinson’s, Elaine has several other heart and tendon-related conditions. Staying on top of her fitness is imperative for Elaine’s wellbeing, but also challenging with these conditions.
As an unpaid carer, Merrin’s daily routine starts around 5.30am. She gets up early to complete housework before she leaves for her teaching job so that Elaine can have an easier day in her absence. As a maths and science teacher Merrin is required to spend a lot of time preparing classes and travelling, which can make scheduling challenging – especially when Elaine needs to attend appointments.
Since assuming the role of primary carer for her mother, there have been some significant financial impacts on Merrin. For instance, she’s had to modify her family home to cater to Elaine’s needs, including adding in extra handles in the shower and ramps around the house to ensure she stays safe and won’t fall.
Merrin was relieved when she found out about the support available from Carers Victoria.
“Carers Victoria has also organised some amazing support groups for us. Having those support networks are very beneficial – being surrounded by people who understand what you’re going through can be so nourishing, particularly when times get challenging.”
Despite the challenges, Merrin insists she is more than happy to have the opportunity to care for her mother.
“She’s my mum and it’s been really nice to repay her for all the years when she cared for us. She’s always been really supportive and wonderful with my boys over the years. She’s been the taxi service for all of us and has done many pick-ups and drop-offs. My boys and mum have an amazing relationship and will talk about anything. Their close connection is something that a lot of grandparents could only wish for. It’s very special.”
To show your support for carers like Merrin, become a Carers Victoria member. Visit www.carersvictoria.org.au/about-us/our-membership to sign up today. Membership is free for individual carers and supporters.
“Carers Victoria has helped deepen the understanding of what the unpaid carer role looks like. It has been able to give us a voice, because individually we don’t have the chance to make our voice heard. Having more registered members is critical because the more carers we have, the louder our voice will be.“