Caring for parents – Chrissy’s story

I’m Chrissy. I’m child number two of four and willing to help my folks to have a better end of life.  

Mam and Dad have only been in Melbourne for less than five years, so finding a balance of life for them here has been a learning journey for them and me. I used to live in Sydney and it took me a few years to find I like regional life as opposed to city life (although this could also be because of age!)  

Chrissy’s mum, raising awareness for MND Victoria.

In June this year, Mam was diagnosed with MND ALS and dementia. She went into aged care two weeks ago. Needless to say, doing anything like this is fraught with anguish and sensitive issues and emotions. Dad was placed with my brother in June, two days after Mum went into hospital not to come home. Dad saw her this week for the first time in 5 months.  

Dad is 80 years old and has had industrial deafness a very long time. I hadn’t noticed how hard he was struggling till I became his and Mam’s carer. I was always aware that hearing loss had isolated Dad from social gatherings, and now that he is going blind – his confidence and self-worth have taken a dive. Now he relies on me for looking and fixing all the little things. 

While Dad was away, he was recuperating with help from My Aged Care, who awarded him an 8-week recuperative course of intense physio to rebuild muscle and gain a little more use of his arms.  

Chrissy realised her father’s deafness was causing him to withdraw.

It was late last year we found out about Soundfair and it was through an RN from Ballarat who introduced us to the most amazing group of people who could help an Irish/Australian just on an international pension and no health cover.  We love Maddi and Prue and Jess!  

Not saying it’s easy, but anything you do has consequences – good and bad. I’m a volunteer with the Western Community Alliance Church in a variety of roles. Doing this social takeover of Soundfair is so exciting as I want to see what we can do for people like dad.  

Something I’d like to say is that face masks don’t cater to the deaf, particularly when they rely on lip reading. Pop has struggled fiercely. So, coming in to see Maddi – Pop is so excited. 

Overall, society and their perceptions regarding people with deafness need to change. Just because someone’s deaf doesn’t mean they are not clever and great conversationalists. Not everyone’s disability is visible, so be careful! Don’t assume.  

In the end, the way we can build a more inclusive society is by building by example. I’m on a health care journey myself and over the next two years I hope to achieve a work–life balance.