At Care UK, we know the role of a family carer is far from easy and it can take an immense toll on your own health and strength, and on the wellbeing of your closest family members.
Whether you’re new to caring or have been looking after a loved one for some time, it is important to remember you’re not alone. Read on for our handy tips:
1. Recognise you’re a carer
Step one in becoming an effective carer for your loved one is recognising and accepting your new role and all the emotions and feelings that come with this new stage in your life.
Feelings of anger, resentment, guilt and helplessness are not uncommon and it is important to accept how you’re feeling and not punish yourself.
2. Keep calm and talk
It can be a very confusing time for people who are new to caring or dealing with a new situation, so it’s important not to bottle up your worries and concerns.
Have at least one person you can confide in to help you make sense of your role and relieve some of your stress.
3. Don’t put your life on hold
Caregiving can quickly become your only focus if you allow it to takeover. In fact, a recent Care UK study highlighted that 22 per cent of carers hadn’t taken a holiday two to three years.
However, it is important to stop and take a step back, taking time to care for yourself and making sure your needs are met. Maintaining a healthy social life, and your own personal wellbeing will make you a far more effective carer, which will benefit both you and your loved one.
4. Be prepared
Understand that things won’t always run smoothly and that it’s okay to have a bad day. While it’s a daunting time for you, remember this is also new to your loved one who may get frustrated with the situation – at times they may feel just as helpless as you.
5. Keep your loved one engaged
Our recent study found that carers spend nine hours a week running errands, nine hours helping to clean or tidy, and eight hours taking their loved one out on social visits. It can be easy to become so consumed by the task at hand that you forget to involve your loved one in decisions and activities.
Allow your loved one to participate in simple household chores, including cleaning and preparing the dinner. It will give them a sense of independence and give you a helping hand.
6. You’re not meant to know all the answers
It is important not to burn yourself out by trying to do it all on your own. Our recent study found that 59 per cent of carers said they never or don’t often ask for help with their caring responsibilities.
Speak to your family and friends and establish a network of help – even if you are the primary caregiver. Attempting to carry the responsibility alone will only weigh you down and prevent you from being an effective carer for your loved one.
7. Understanding your options
There may come a time when the needs of the person you’re caring for start to become too much for you to manage on your own at home. You have a number of options available to you, from drop-in sessions at your local Care UK home, to respite care and longer residential breaks.
It’s easy to ignore the warning signs because of feelings of fear and uncertainty, and simply not knowing where to start. But try to face the issues before they become worse; dealing with them will help you to feel more in control of the situation.