At Carebox we understand the vital role that carers play. Caring for a loved one can be physically and mentally very demanding. It’s a role that requires 100 per cent commitment, and a lot of selflessness.
The pressure of supporting someone can take its toll, so it’s vitally important that no matter how committed you are to the needs of the person you’re caring for, you also make time for yourself. Here are some top tips on how you can look after yourself while caring for someone with specialist care needs.
Maintain your interests and social life
It is easy to let the demands of caring dominate your life. Making time for activities that make you happy can make all the difference to your quality of life. Maintain your hobbies and interests, both those that involve social interaction and also solitary pursuits such as music, reading, watching films, etc. Friends can be an important source of emotional support as well as a means of providing an opportunity to get away from the demands of home life for a while. Getting a break, even if just a short one, will help you to look after yourself as well as your relative more effectively.
Being a carer can be stressful and put a huge strain on your wellbeing and quality of life if you let it. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can counter these negative effects. Try to take time to do whatever forms of exercise you enjoy and make the effort to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
It is important to take a break from caring on occasion in order to rest and have some time to yourself. Provision and funding for respite care should be considered as part of your relative’s care package. There is some information on the NHS website about this that might be useful.
A carer’s assessment looks at your needs as a carer and whether you are entitled to services to make caring easier for you. You can contact your local authority to request an assessment.
Consider attending a carer support group
There are many support groups for carers, so see what’s available locally to you. These services are particularly helpful as they provide peer support from others in similar situations. You can also try online resources, like our very own forum community as well as Facebook groups specific to your caring needs. Specialist carer’s organisations offer support groups and services in many areas of the UK. There is also a UK-wide network of Carer’s Centres offering information, advice, practical help, advocacy, training, education and all kinds of other services.
Understand and manage your emotional reactions
Coming to terms with a relative’s injury or disability is a complex and ever-changing process. It is important to remember that there is no right and wrong way to feel, and all reactions can be considered completely natural. Don’t expect everything to make sense initially.
Familiarise yourself with benefits or other forms of financial support that you might be entitled to, such as Carer’s Allowance or National Insurance Contribution Credits. Many of these are available if the person you care for is receiving Personal Independence Payment (PIP). You could also look at schemes for help with vehicle and transport, and leisure.
If you have any top tips you would like to share with us, please comment below. We’d really appreciate your input and your experience could help others in a similar situation to yours.