Latest from the Blog: Opinion View all

Young caring with Mercy

Hi, my name is Mercy I’m 12 and have three brothers, Ollie 21, Levi 15 and True 4. 

 My eldest brother Ollie needs a lot of help and often we miss out on sports and other activities. Sometimes people stare at us but I don’t mind, other times there are nice people who smile or start talking with Ollie.

Wonderful Web Feb

Get the most out of the digital world.

There are millions and millions of websites and web services available online.  Here’s some of them that I hope that you might find useful.

The Not So Cool Stuff

This is how to stay safe on the internet.  There are people out there who think it is fun to ruin other people’s fun.  Here’s some tips for being careful on the internet:

Health of Older People Consultation: Why didn't more carers participate?

Carers of older people, and older carers, are the biggest caring community of all ... but they are also stressed and time poor.

NZ Dementia Summit 2015: A Carer's View

Sarah Scott reviews the Summit, held at Te Papa in November.

Surviving on superannuation

Most in advanced age rely on pension, says new study by the University of Auckland.

The Specialist

Octogenerian New Plymouth blogger Frank Gaze knows some of his physiology is 'a funny shape'. He learns more from his specialist.

Euthanasia not black and white

By Laurie Hilsgen

I support the disability movement's concerns about legalising euthanasia and what this means for people who have high support needs, and the elderly, and the chronically ill.

On the surface of it, having the choice to die is empowering.

Drop Your Pants Here

That is the sign at the end of our street. It is on a signboard attached to the Laundry on the corner in letters a metre high.

You can see it all the way down the hill as you come into town from the south on the State Highway.

There are other signs, in much smaller letters, attached to the laundry building. One gives the opening hours, as you would expect, and another tells about the 24 hour Laundromat and internet café. But high above all the others is “Drop Your Pants Here”.

Now, at one stage in my life, that would have made sense.

Ignorance Behind Granny Dumping Claims

At least once a year, usually at Christmas, you can count on a story about 'granny dumping' by callous families wanting a carefree holiday unburdened by elderly dependents.

Such families, so the theory goes, dump their elders on hospital doorsteps, even though they are not sick enough to warrant residential treatment, but are perhaps not well enough to stay home alone while the rest of the household decamps for the holiday period.

Adolescent dreams

Bruce Springsteen’s early music was about dreams. A glorified gutter rat from small town New Jersey wants to find life, and he’s going to find it in New York City faster than you can shout out 1-2-3-4. 

What’s more, he’s going to find it in a car with ludicrously huge fins, a pretty girl named Wendy seated next to him, and stardust music twinkling from the dashboard as they bullet along the turnpike. 

I discovered Springsteen when I was more or less my son Eliot’s age (he has just turned 14), as if in an adolescent dream. 

Family Carers and Election 2014: Analysis of party positions

This weekend, eligible voters will gather at the polls to determine the political future of New Zealand for the next three years.

Many thousands of those same voters will then return home to continue providing around-the-clock care for ill, elderly, and disabled family members and loved ones. 

More than 430,000 New Zealanders have caring roles, according to Census 2013, so what the political parties are promoting in terms of policy is of self-evident relevance to them. 

My fashion statement

“Perfectly normal at your age!” said the GP.

I had asked about the significance of a radiology report, which said I was suffering from ‘Severe Degenerative Spinal Disease’.

“Do I panic?” was my question. But the GP was not at all sympathetic.

“It’s OK for you,” I thought, “You only look about 35.”

 The scan of my back was quite incidental to the real problem, which was to do with a much more abdominal part of my anatomy (See “Mind your P’s and Q’s”).

Remembering to vote

An interesting Election Day-related item in the news today on dementia and elections gives new meaning to the old injunction about remembering to vote. 

Aged care providers are saying that the Electoral Act needs to be reviewed to stop people with severe dementia being able to cast a ballot, Radio New Zealand reports

Under the existing legislation, it’s okay for sufferers to vote as long as they know what they’re doing.

Those Ginger Nuts

I am devastated about ginger nuts. You know, the ones you have to ask for by name. 

In spite of the old jingle, they do NOT taste the same! 

We bought a packet after a long gap. (Usually either Grannie makes scones or Grandad bakes a fruit cake or a batch of anzac biscuits). They were thinner, narrower, and not the same rich ginger colour. And they did not taste anything like the full, rich ginger flavour I remember.

Now here's an interesting proposal

Ah, the political springtime. The electoral sap is rising, and so are the party promises (or lack of promises) for unpaid carers. I’ll be looking at some of them over the coming fortnight—but first, for what it’s worth, here's one excellent proposal from Britain. 

What’s being proposed in the UK is that workers who care for elderly, sick or disabled loved ones should have a legal right to extra paid leave to help them balance their caring responsibilities and jobs, the former care minister is proposing. 

Clean politics

Meanwhile, back in the real world ... the business of caring goes on. 

Astonishing as it might appear for those within the Wellington chattering class, there are one or two subjects that could win or lose votes next month other than who said what to who in which email republished in the new Nicky Hager book. 

The situation of carers is one. 

On the hustings

What a week this has been in politics! We have been to two pre-election meetings, neither of them very well attended. 

The first was hosted by the teachers’ union, the NZEI. They had four speakers: Plunket, Kindergarten Association, Principals’ Association, and a paediatrician from the local hospital. They highlighted issues like child poverty, and lack of money for early childhood education. They asked some questions of the politicians. 

Then we had responses from three party representatives: National, Labour and the Greens. 

Social cringe?

"Strengths-based" is a popular buzzword for encouraging Kiwis to address challenges in a positive, proactive way. 

Instead of saying "life is bloody hard on a benefit and I haven't been able to find a job" we might say "being unemployed is an opportunity to learn new skills and branch out into new directions, finding employment I might never have considered or thought possible before I was made redundant". 

Food of life

In the interests of seeing the (wine) glass half full, I’ve taken to cooking with a gusto in the years since being a carer became part of my life—and generally speaking, feel the better (and probably heavier) for it. 

For many carers, however, cooking is not so much something to skite about as it is an area of serious concern. 

An article published this week in the British Guardian highlights the problem

Gaza blues

The situation in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel has been on many people’s minds these past couple of weeks. 

It has been on my mind as well—not only because of the miserable events remorselessly unfolding but for the personal memories they evoke. 

Some years ago I happened to be in Sderot and on the outskirts of Gaza. 

Caring again?

By Laurie Hilsgen

There is a poem in Ted Hughes' final book, Birthday Letters, recalling his innocence as he bites into a peach for the first time and soon thereafter falls in love with glamorous fellow student and poet Sylvia Plath. 

With awe and a tincture of pity for his young self, Hughes writes of his headlong tip into a waterfall of firsts: marriage, fatherhood, and supporting Plath, who committed suicide after their breakup several years later. 

The professorial finger

You know the situation I mean: your medical adviser thinks you really haven't understood the seriousness of your health problem. 

So he (women are more subtle) wags his index finger at you, calls you by your surname, and speaks in a very slow, forceful way. 

Three times I remember this happening.

The most memorable was in 1980, when I had testicular cancer. In those days they were only just starting to get on top of this particular


The youngest carers

Talk about a hard road.

The number of people caring for an older person, someone with a disability or with a health condition is rising — we all know that. 

Considerably less well known, or appreciated, is the age of some of those who do the caring. 

In Britain this month, a new documentary looked at a previously unmined corner of the caring community: those who begin to look after ailing parents during their own childhood. 

Who do we trust?

The latest Reader’s Digest Most Trusted poll celebrates a “wonderfully diverse mix of Kiwis we can be proud of,” according to the monthly magazine. 

“People like Edmund Hillary, Willie Apiata, Peter Avery, Richie McCaw and John Kirwan come from different walks of life—yet each one has made their own mark on the world and our country.” 

What I learned

About the time my mother-in-law was 80, we began to be worried about her mental health.

She would lose things she had never lost before. She would tell us someone had been in her house and stolen things. And most important of all, she could not manage her medication: her inhalers (for emphysema) would be used up in a couple of days, instead of a month!

For some years, since her husband died, I had been taking her to the supermarket each week, and over that time she had lost track of her pin number for her card at the checkout.

So the writing was on the wall.

Disability Survey results: serve with a little salt?

Statistics NZ labour market and household statistics manager Diane Ramsay said the proportion of people aged 65 and over was growing, and this was feeding into the upward trend. 

Among the other notable findings:

* Among boys under 15, an estimated 13% were disabled, while for girls, 8% were disabled.

* For males and females aged 15-44, the figure was16% in both cases.

* 28% of both men and women aged 45 to 64 were disabled.

Caring eyewitnesses

Over on the Fairfax Media website, Stephen De Jong writes –movingly, bitterly and astutely—about the challenges of caring for an intellectually impaired teenager.

Dying: A New Zealand Guide

The only person who ever described the process of death as “very easy” was Simone de Beauvoir, and it’s probably safe to say that the title of her greatest work was indeed intended to be ironic. 

Another author, the Wellington-based Karen McMillan, has teamed up with a couple of others to produce a new book out about how to make death and dying just a little easier. 

A Week for British (and Aussie) Carers

Carers Week, an annual campaign that celebrates and recognises the valuable contribution that people make when they look after an ill, frail or disabled family member or friend, is nearly upon Britain. 

And while the event has yet to attract the interest of the country’s big media outlets, its notices in the community press are something to be heartened about—at least if one lives in the UK and not New Zealand. 

Budget Blues?

Everybody’s talking about Budget 2014, but not a lot of the talk has been about households who must produce their own budgets with an eye for the requirements of an affected member in need of constant care.  

A record $15.6bn has been earmarked for health over the coming year, with children’s health, disability support and elective surgery among the areas in for an immediate boost


How Carers NZ can help

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