How to care for yourself when you’re a carer
Looking after your own heath and well-being while caring for a loved one is as important as theirs. Being a carer can be very challenging and it can be difficult to make time for yourself. If you stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy you will be in a better position to support your loved one. It can also improve your relationship with them.
Here are some of our top tips on looking after yourself whether you’re a spouse, partner, family member or friend.
Be honest about your own needs
It may be easy to appear to health care professionals, friends and family as if you’re coping very well. Sometimes carers find themselves being overly positive to disguise how hard their job truly is. Make sure you ask and get the help you truly deserve as if outwardly you appear to be coping, others might not know or realise you’re in need of more help.
Accept kindness from other people
It’s ok to take time to voice your worries or concerns to another if they have a listening ear and want to help. If you’re offered help, don’t be afraid to accept it if you trust that person.
Find an online community of like minded carers to get advice and share your experiences with
Having a group of people you can relate to when you might be in a new or changing situation can provide valuable insight into coping strategies, making life a little less stressful or tips on improving your relationship with your loved one. Most charities have online communities as well as social media providing an expanding platform for connecting carer communities together.
Ask for help
As a carer you’re entitled to something called a Carer’s Assessment from your local authority. This helps to identify what support you are providing (normally more than you realise) and can help to formalise caring arrangements for your loved ones in the format both of you would like them. It is also important to accept help when it is offered and to explain to your loved one how important you feel getting help is to you.
Trust your instinct
As a spouse, partner, family member or friend, you know that person better than anyone. Therefore if you think something could be done or changed to improve their well-being, you’re probably right.
Find out about options for respite
Looking after yourself and making sure you still have time to be you is important in keeping your batteries charged. Having a break from caring responsibilities provides a valuable lifeline to carers to allow them to have headspace to do something or be somewhere, just for themselves. This might involve taking part in a hobby, doing something you find relaxing, going to an event or even just being at home alone to take a breather.
Adorno Community Activity Club
Adorno runs Day Centre Activity Clubs which specialise in dementia care. Carers can enjoy much needed respite time, secure in the knowledge that their loved one is enjoying a diverse program of activities including music, chair based keep fit, arts and crafts, gardening and much more, supported by a team of expert staff. A hot healthy lunch is provided and transport is available. Currently our Activity Club take place on Wednesdays at the Greenfield Centre in Winterbourne and Thursdays at the Ridgewood Centre in Yate, 10am to 2pm. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07398 526024. We look forward to welcoming you.
Activities for Carers
- Adorno run a Carers Support Forum, normally once a month, but sign up to our Newsletter here for up-to-date information on when you can attend. Networking with other carers and sharing ideas is an invaluable opportunity and helps people to feel supported. Please email email@example.com or call 07398 526024 for more information.
- The Forest of Avon Trust runs a group for people with dementia and those who support them. The Woodland Wellbeing Group focuses on the importance of spending time in nature for both physical and mental health. Activities like simple woodwork, cooking food on a forest fire or walking round the park can be enjoyed. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Alive Activities run a purpose built, fully accessible dementia friendly allotment where you can enjoy gardening, gentle green craft activities and tea and cake together. Contact email@example.com for more information.
- The Foot Therapist, Sandra Hahn, offers natural, holistic therapies that are good for health, vitality and wellbeing. She specialises in reflexology, foot and hand massages. Discounted rates are offered to Adorno clients and their carers. Please contact Sarah on 0778 668 2573 or visit thefoottherapist.co.uk
- Emily at Be Lively offers guided meditation sessions and ways to improve your fitness. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Gentle Yoga-in are friendly and inclusive classes that will help to stay supple, safely manage back pain, and joint issues. Ideal if you’re feeling stiff, recovering or living with a chronic illness, or simply want to gently move and relax. You’re in charge and you take it to whatever level that suits your body. Please contact Nazama on 07804 598353 or visit the website here.
- North Bristol Advice Centre is running “Bristol Tea and Tech” sessions to help older people get connected in venues across north Bristol. The new drop-in is suitable for beginners and those with experience who want to update their skills. Volunteers will be on hand to help people to get online, do what is important to them and address concerns about safety and security. The service is free and includes a cuppa and a chat! Contact Nicola at email@example.com or 07936 943583.
- Warmly Wheelers is a cycle scheme which offers specialist equipment and a safe, friendly environment to support people who would normally find it difficult to ride a bike. They have a range of specially adapted bicycles. These include battery-assisted bikes, bikes with platforms for wheelchairs, recumbent bikes and a variety of trikes. Their tandem bikes mean that carers can be part of the ride too. You can ride the bikes on the Bristol to Bath railway path or in a safe area in Warmley Forest Park. Book a session now by calling Project Coordinator Andy Underdown on 07587 034 366or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Joy Club is an online membership club which you can join to keep your mind and body active, learn from experts and connect with people who share your interests. All Adorno staff and clients can access two month free membership to trial all the amazing activities on offer. Visit the joyclub.com to learn more.
If you are a carer, we would encourage you to contract the Bristol and South Gloucestershire Carers Support Centre on 0117 965 2200 or visit carerssupportcentre.org. Useful links are also carerstust.org and carersuk.org