This tragedy shows the side of being your parent’s carer no one talks about 34



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For anyone who has had to become their parent’s carer, whether it’s full time, part time or occasional, you’ll know how difficult it can be. Seeing your elderly mum or dad in pain or just unable to do things for themselves is heartbreaking enough, but it’s this recent story that sheds light on a darker side to caring – your own emotions and turmoil.

The baby boomer generation has a predicament right now – they’ve also become the sandwich generation. They may have adult children still living at home, but also elderly parents to look after.

Melissa Peacock was caring for her mother Noreen when sadly, Noreen died. But what happened next is shocking – she carried on as if nothing happened. While we can’t speculate on a current inquest, it at least gives an insight into the enormous amount of pressure and mental strain that having a sick parent can have on a person.

Melissa was her mother’s sole carer after she was diagnosed with dementia in 2009, reports SMH.

After her mother’s body was found by real estate agents conducting an inspection, Melissa told police that she got shingles in July 2013, which incapacitated her, at the same time as her mother fell ill with a vomiting bug, said Ian Bourke, SC, counsel assisting the inquest into Mrs Peacock’s death.

“She claimed … she shut the door to her bedroom and told nobody about the death and carried on as though her mother was still alive,” Mr Bourke said. “She told police she was in denial.”

The inquest heard that Melissa worked six days a week at a northern Sydney private hospital, while also caring for her mother. She worked hard but still wanted to care for her ailing mother, and refused to put her into care.

As her mum got increasingly ill, Melissa developed a drinking problem. “Unfortunately despite the pressure Melissa was under … she did not ask for help.

“It appears on the evidence gathered that the level of care given to Noreen diminished significantly during the first half of 2013”.

The inquest is ongoing but will be under the Mental Health Act.

It is a valuable message to all carers and those with elderly parents to seek help if you feel it is too much. Your own mental health is important not only for your wellbeing, but so you can provide the best care. And if you cannot, that’s OK too.


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  1. Feel very sad for Melissa as caring was her passion….where were other family members n friends…workmates…it seems that Melissa was carrying an enormous weight and the end that was sadly I the ‘result’…..poor mum she deserved nursing home care when Melussa ‘burnt out’

  2. A good story, thank you for bringing this up. A carer for a sick partner also struggles with little outside help. The focus is on the patient/client, we can’t deny them that, but little or no attention is paid to the carer. Carer’s are left to cope as best they can, often with lack of a good nights sleep. Our age care workers do a brilliant job but not long enough hours to suit clients needs.

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    • Yes I agree with you Robyn….focus is on the patient not the carers….I cared for my husband and it nearly killed me due to medical not listening to me….ended up having 2 strokes the last one was the night of my husbands funeral………I recovered taking 2 years to feel a bit normal again……also had to put my mum into a nursing home during this time………what a roller coaster of emotions………….it still continues on with her in high care !!

  3. I cared for my mum 3 years. Last year got carers pension. Only left her wednesday with my daughter. Do quick trip get food. I don, t talk many sibblings anymore. Now care for 3 grandbabies have had nearly 8 years

  4. I am dealing with my wife also. Who has dementia ,Alzheimer’s . It does get hard when you get sick yourself ,it seemes to me we also think we don’t do enough but do stress and end up tired and worn out ,with little help

  5. I did ask for help. I was looking after my partner. I was told I was told by several Govt Agencies that I was being paid by the Govt to be his carer so they couldn’t give me much help. I nearly lost my life one night because of his dementia and still I wasn’t helped when I cried out. My partner has since passed away several months ago but will take me many years to recover from this ordeal. Our system is flawed when someone has several co -morbidities. No one focuses on the whole problem just there own little piece of the puzzle.

  6. How sad it’s a mistake to think you have to do the caring yourself I thought that for awhile when I was caring for my husband. You may have to do a bit of searching and it is hard to find out how to get the help. One group that helped me a lot was Caring for Carers who really look after the carer
    I live in Christchurch and I am not sure how wide this group is but for all carer’s it’s worth contacting them

  7. Carers need to be able to put their charge into respite care for short periods to take a break. Even doing the shopping, getting your hair done can be difficult and if the career gets sick themselves it can be a nightmare. Being paid a careers allowance should not deny someone access to short term help from other agencies. Even an afternoon off is difficult for some and they become prisoners to the task.

  8. I’m what is classed as a sandwich Carer I help my sister with mum ( not as often as I like) I have grandkids with mental Heath issues I care for as well but it’s not all doom and gloom we still have some fun because we still know how to play, I want my sister to put mum into respite even for a few days to give her a break but she says mum will fret maybe she will but I don’t want to lose my sister

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