Anyone, anytime can become a carer
More than 700,000 Victorians provide unpaid care and support to a family member or a friend with a disability, mental illness, chronic condition or who is fraill aged. Chances are everybody knows at least one carer.
Carers come from all walks of life and provide care for a variety of reasons. In fact, some of the most famous people in history were carers! Because caring can happen to anyone, any time.
Albert Einstein is famous for many things; mostly for being a genius and having amazing hair.
You might not know that Albert was also a father, a husband…and a carer. At 60 his wife, Elsa, became seriously ill, and he became her carer. Only a year later she passed away. Elsa had been Albert’s partner, his protector and his family for 17 years.
Albert was lucky; when Elsa was sick, he was able to balance work and caring for her. Some are not so fortunate. Family carers save the Australian Federal Government more than $40 billion every year – yet many still struggle to make ends meet. It doesn’t take a quantum physicist to realise carers need better support.
Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. You might remember her name from, well, the very state we're standing in.
Victoria is one of the most famous people in history, but she was more than just a queen – she wore many hats (or crowns, as it were) throughout her life; she was a mother, a grandmother, a wife and she was a carer.
When her beloved husband, Albert, became sick Victoria’s life changed forever. She had to juggle ruling a Commonwealth – a bit on the tricky side – and caring for her chronically ill husband. Like 43% of Victoria's (the state, not the lady) primary carers, she had to balance work and care. Of course, being a queen, she probably had some help.
Imagine going from being someone’s wife or husband to their carer overnight. That’s what happened to Eleanor Roosevelt when her husband, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, became ill and was soon paralysed from the waist-down.
Eleanor once said, “A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.” Well, that was her hot water moment, and Eleanor proved to be one tough cookie. Not only did she care for Franklin through the worst days of his illness, but she went on to become one of the most famous and influential advocates for social equality and justice in history.
Someone once said of Eleanor that she would rather light a candle than curse the darkness - that’s an attitude we can get behind.
Theo van Gogh
He may be the less-famous van Gogh, but without Theo, Vincent may never have been the artist we know him as today.
Back in his day, Vincent van Gogh was not particularly well-known. This, as you can imagine, is not particularly helpful when it comes to making a living as an artist. So when Vincent was poor, Theo would send him money. When Vincent was uninspired, Theo would encourage his talent. And when Vincent began to experience depression and episodes of psychosis, Theo was his support system.
Theo was more to Vincent than a brother; he was also Vincent’s carer, even though they were so often separated by geography. Caring can come in many forms, and from great distances.
In a time when popular poems rhymed, Emily Dickinson made a decision to create her own style and in doing so gave us some of the most beautiful verses in literature.
But while she’s a rock star of the poetry world today, Emily’s life was far from glamorous. In her early 20s, she became her mother’s carer; with her mother chronically ill and unable to move beyond her bed, Emily rarely left the house. She was a carer for some 30 years. Although this meant some serious mother-daughter bonding, it was also a time of social isolation for Emily; because, much like Victoria’s 100,000 primary carers, Emily took on a lot of caring responsibilities without a lot of help.