ROSEANNE and Steve Boyle were on their dream trip when life put the skids on.
The pair had retired early to travel around Australia in a caravan when Mr Boyle had a major stroke in Wodonga, leaving him paralysed down his left side and wheelchair-bound.
Mrs Boyle became her husband’s full-time carer as they navigated their new life on the Border, where they had spent time in the 1970s.
“In the first three years Steve was in and out of hospital,” she said.
“We had to change our thinking about a lot of things; we couldn’t get the wheelchair into our friends’ houses so we needed to meet people out and were limited on space at our place.”
Married for 43 years, Mrs Boyle has carried out her carer’s role with determination and dignity despite her own health problems.
Mrs Boyle, who suffered from a chronic back injury and arthritis, said they had retired at 50 when they were still fit enough to travel.
“We’d decided to go early because of my genetic health issues and my mother had had eight strokes,” she said.
“We didn’t expect it to happen this way.”
From October 15-21 National Carers Week celebrates the often unsung role of carers in our community.
Carers Australia reports carer roles are valued at $60.3 billion annually.
Mrs Boyle is one of 2500 unpaid carers supported by not-for-profit organisation Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) across Hume who care for people who are frail aged, have a disability, mental illness, dementia, chronic illness or are going through palliative care.
She gets therapy to keep her chronic back issues in check and arthritis at bay, including carer support to help get her husband in and out of bed.
“They saw a need to help us because we’d fallen through the gaps; Steve was not old enough to be aged and too old for youth support,” Mrs Boyle said.
Mrs Boyle said the couple stayed strong and positive by having a routine, pursuing their own hobbies and regular counselling.
“I would tell other carers out there that it’s so important to get time for themselves,” she said.
“I also can’t stress enough how important it is to have their own counsellor if they need someone to talk to.”
VMCH invites carers to a Carers Week lunch on Friday at Upper Murray Family Care, Wodonga, 11.30am to 3pm. Bookings: 1800 052 222.
VMCH Home Support and Carer Services operations manager Kellie King said carers like Mrs Boyle came from all walks of life but most were reluctant to seek help or recognition.
“The caring role supports people to continue to live in their community and to be able to do that in a safe and happy way without having to rely on health services,” she said.
“It’s really important we get the message out that we recognise their role as carers and the contribution they make, not just to the person they care for, but also to the community by doing so.”