Managing Daily Life

Caring for someone who is seriously ill can be demanding. You may find it satisfying or you may find it challenging. Sometimes it can be both.

Your family, friends or neighbours often want to help. You may develop a system so that you have help with shopping, laundry, housework or gardening. You may get some services through your local council. Some palliative care services have volunteers who can help.

Ask health professionals for advice. This could be about how to:

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  • physically care for someone who is very ill
  • balance your carer role with other responsibilities
  • maintain a social life
  • keep physically and emotionally well.


You may find it a physical and emotional strain to run a household. You may feel tired and overwhelmed.

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You can ask your health professional about respite services which can help you to take a break. They can work with you to help this happen.

You can ask your health professional about respite services which can help you to take a break. They can work with you to help this happen.

Respite is a chance for everyone to have a break. This includes the person you are caring for. There are a range of support services available, such as in-home care where someone relieves you at home. Respite could also be available at a Residential Aged Care Facility. You may have to pay for this.

Respite means giving up your role for a short time. You may find it hard to hand over to someone else. You may have promised the person who is ill that you would always look after them. You may also find it hard to take this role back again once you have had a break.

The need for respite and support will depend on many factors. This includes the length of time that someone is ill. It is important that you ask for help.

Paid careworkers in your home

If you are caring for someone at home there can be a lot of other people involved. There may be a community nurse, a GP, an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist. You may also have the palliative care team, as well as having paid care workers to help you.

Having so many people around can be reassuring or it can sometimes feel intrusive. You may find disruption to your usual household routine. You may have to coordinate everything.

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It is important to remember that they are visitors to your home. They are there to help make things easier for you. Talking with them about any concerns you have is important.

Whenever possible try to make sure that some private, quiet time is set aside for the family.


People may want to provide you with help in your caring role. This can be a great support for you. However, you may find that you sometimes need some time on your own. The person you are caring for may also need to rest.

The people who visit won’t mind if you need to manage the number of visitors that you receive. If you want time to yourself then some of the following ideas may be helpful:

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  • put a blackboard by the front door with a message
  • put something on Facebook
  • put an update on your answer phone
  • have a visitor’s diary so that people can leave messages.




Fact sheets

Last updated 13 July 2020