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Caring for Carers

Many people do not think themselves as ‘carers’. They simply see themselves as a husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter or friend looking after someone they love.

If you provide regular unpaid help and support to someone who suffers from an illness or disability and they can’t cope alone, then you are a carer.

You will be different from someone who provides care professionally, as you will have an emotional connection to the person you are taking care of.

Carers can be adults caring for other adults, parents caring for ill or disabled children or young people who care for another family member.

They provide assistance for things such as:

  • Personal care – washing, dressing, taking medication
  • Transportation – getting out and about, going to appointments
  • Safety – watching over someone who can’t be left alone
  • Housework – shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry
  • Emotional support – friendship, listening, advice

Facts about carers…

  • 1 in 10 people are carers ( that’s around 7 million people).
  • 70% of carers reported suffering with back or shoulder pain.
  • 52% of carers reported that their physical health had been affected by caring.
  • 28% of people looking after parents over 75 years of age said juggling work with their caring responsibilities adds pressure to their lives.
  • 30% of people caring believe they need external help.
  • 1 in 5 people feel guilty about not being able to do more to help.

Over 70% of the UK’s 7 million unpaid carers now suffer from back pain. They are at a greater risk of developing ongoing chronic pain. This is highly disabling in a third of cases and life-long for the majority. This is because they provide care and support to an ailing or disabled family member, friend or neighbour on an ongoing basis. Added to this is the danger of higher than usual levels of emotional stress; especially if they are caring for a spouse or close family member.

Given the facts listed above, it’s crucial that carers care for themselves as well as the person depending upon them. If you are a carer, try to action the tips below…

13 ways to help yourself…

  1. Take time for yourself – if you are happy and well you are better able to provide help and support to others.
  2. Have you own interests and make time for them – keeping fit, hobbies, see your friends.
  3. Eat a balance diet which is good for your all-round health, fitness and well-being.
  4. Plan meals – sit down once a week, make a list of your meals and shop in one trip.
  5. Online shopping – can be quicker and easier if you can’t get to the shops.
  6. Batch cooking – cook and freeze portions to take out when needed.
  7. Take care of your physical health – get any aches and pains checked out.
  8. An occupational therapist can come and assess what is needed in the home – such as hand rails, raising chairs, raising the toilet seat and so on.
  9. Take a break from caring – whether for a few hours or longer. If longer you might like to consider respite care.
  10. Loneliness – caring for someone is a huge responsibility and can take up a lot of time. Sometimes it may make you feel lonely and cut off. Try to socialise and take time to visit other friend and family. A long chat on the phone can do wonders.
  11. Meet other carers – there are online forums such as Carers UK and Carers Trust – connecting with someone who understands what you are facing can be a huge support. Babble is for young carers under 18, Matter for 16-25 year olds and Carers Space for 18+.
  12. Anxiety and Depression – you may suffer with these for different reasons, but it is important to take action. See your GP and/or seek counseling and seek some information and advice.
  13. Get help – if your health and wellbeing is affected, it’s time to seek help from professionals. This could be for assistance with aspects such as: home care services, domiciliary care at home, sheltered housing, respite care.

Further info can be found at:

https://carers.org/article/taking-care-yourself

https://www.which.co.uk/elderly-care