BEING A CARER

‘There are an estimated 13.6 million carers in the UK – one in four of all adults’ – Carers UK

It’s likely that everyone, will have caring responsibilities at some time in their lives. You may not have thought of yourself as a ‘carer’ and more likely see yourself as a parent, partner, sibling, son, daughter, or close friend. In health and social care services, the term ‘carer’ is used to describe someone who is supporting a relative or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, mental health problem or addiction. When one member of the family is unwell, it affects everyone, and you may be trying to support more than one person.

Many carers try to balance their caring responsibilities with work, study, and other family commitments. Some carers will find themselves caring unexpectedly or some may have been caring for a long time, either way it can be a very difficult and stressful time, with the challenges faced by carers taking many forms.

POSITIVES ASPECTS OF CARING

Taking care of a relative or friend can be both incredibly difficult and rewarding at the same time. Most research focusses on the benefits the person being cared for receives however emerging research has also found that providing care can also benefit carers. A fundamental part of our work is to highlight the value of carers and the various personal growths, satisfactions and rewards carers can experience.

Caring for those around us helps;

  • demonstrate great qualities such as; compassion and kindness.
  • strengthen; relationships, emotional connections, and a sense of togetherness.
  • bring a sense of satisfaction, knowing that we are making a real difference to a person’s quality of life.
  • to realise and recognise own strengths & qualities.
  • gain knowledge, and experience.
  • build confidence and new skills.
  • Increase a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
  • promote peace of mind, knowing that a loved one is getting excellent care.

Despite the prevalence of unpaid care and its value, stigma and prejudice remains an issue today. We aim to; eradicate negative attitudes towards unpaid care, raise awareness of carers and the positive aspects of caring.

 CARERS MENTAL HEALTH

 ‘72% of carers responding to Carers UK’s State of Caring 2018 Survey said they had suffered mental ill health as a result of caring’ Carers UK

Supporting someone else can affect your mental health and make it harder to stay well. Although you may genuinely want to care for them, you may also find it difficult and upsetting. When caring for someone else, you might experience challenges and difficult feelings such as: stress & worry, anxiety, isolation & loneliness, money worries, lack of sleep, guilt, frustration and anger, low self-esteem, and depression.

You may find you have less time and energy to look after yourself, for example to be physically active, eat healthy food and relax. You may feel as though your health does not take priority, or you do not have time to get the help you need.

You may feel frustrated that you cannot make someone feel better. But like physical health conditions, mental health problems can affect anyone. No one can prevent someone else from having a mental health problem.

You’re probably helping a lot more than you think. Try to build up a clear idea about what you can do. Accept parts that you cannot do alone or things that you cannot change. Understanding what is possible and being aware of your limits might make you feel less helpless.

© Mind. This information is published in full at mind.org.uk

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helping-someone-else/carers-friends-family-coping-support/your-mental-health/

Mind carers service offers a variety of support options which help to take care of you including; ongoing emotional support, carers peer support groups, information sessions, health and wellbeing workshops and activities.

CARING FOR YOURSELF

Taking care of yourself is vital when you are caring for a relative or friend. When the person you care for is unwell, it may be difficult to think about your own needs. Often, we hold the view, if they are ‘OK’ then we are ‘OK’ so your energy goes into doing everything you can to make things better for them. However, it is important to take time out to think about what you need as well.

When you spend a lot of your time focusing on someone else, you may feel as if you have no time for yourself. But looking after your own wellbeing is important for you and for them.

Mind have listed some self-care ideas that others have said they find helpful. Even trying one small thing might help you feel more able to cope.

© Mind. This information is published in full at mind.org.uk

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helping-someone-else/carers-friends-family-coping-support/looking-after-yourself/

Please also see our carers self-care workshop, which introduces 3 simple and quick daily keys to taking care of yourself.

Self care Powerpoint workshop

Family and Carers Support