Families and carers of the disabled do a fantastic job.....negotiating care, arranging appointments, liaising with professionals, writing reports.....As well the hands on care of bathing, dressing and feeding.
We are so multi-skilled and adaptable that others look on in amazement at the variety of roles we perform each day.
Having a disabled child or adult in the family brings all sorts of changes to family life as everyone is affected by the extra responsibility and the additional financial cost.
Suddenly, you may find yourself having to...... give up your job or work fewer hours as juggling your time becomes too difficult leaving you with a lower income, reduced job prospects and pension.
You might have to move to a more accessible house or face the prospect of making major changes to your existing home involving extra expense and more demands on the family finances.
And that's not all.... as just going out can sometimes feel like a military exercise.....finding places to suit ALL the family, checking for accessible toilets, loading all that extra gear.....wheelchair, medication, change of clothes, prepared food, drinking cups, special cutlery....and so on!
I find myself always planning - thinking ahead to next challenge and analysing all the possible outcomes so I'm prepared for everything that could possibly happen.
Yet despite all this extra stress families and carers do cope, often finding their own solutions or sacrificing their own dreams.
For me, what keeps me going is having the support of family and friends even though I know they can't take on my responsibilities.
But whether you are caring for an elderly parent, a middle aged or young child trying to establish your own identity and living your own life can be difficult.
To help you there are carers groups and family organisations in most parts of the country providing vital support and advice on everything from claiming the Carer's Allowance to finding respite care. They also give carers the opportunity to chat to other carers to share ideas and experiences.
What's more there are grants for families and carers to help with respite, holidays, training and household items to improve quality of life and employment prospects.
So, check through the following pages.....