How to care for yourself when you’re a carer

Photo credit: Unsplash, Esther Ann

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.

Being a carer can be very challenging and it can be difficult to make time for yourself.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

Useful links:

Carers Trust – carers.org

Carers UK – carersuk.org

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