Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
Around 6.5 million people in the UK are carers, looking after a parent, partner, child or friend. A carer is someone who provides care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older. Caring can be a hugely rewarding experience but sometimes carers find it challenging to take care of their own well-being whilst caring.
Research has found that caring for others can have a major impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. If you are a carer, you are more likely to be in poor health – both physically and mentally – than people without caring responsibilities.
Tips to take care of yourself
When you’re faced with providing care for a loved one, do not set aside your own needs. You are the most important person in the process. If you allow yourself to “burn out”, you can no longer care for your loved one and may find that it’s hard to take care of yourself.
• Monitor your health. Inadequate sleep and high levels of stress can easily take a physical toll. If you find yourself physically or mentally weaker, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
• Set aside a few hours a week of down time outside of the home, maybe lunch with friends or an afternoon at the park.
• Stay connected to others. Do not allow yourself to become isolated from friends or other family members.
• Maintain a healthy diet. Sometimes this can be hard, especially if your appetite is not so good. But you need your strength so eat a balanced diet and remember to ‘treat’ yourself sometimes with food you enjoy.
• See a counsellor to discuss the effects of your new found role as carer.
• Attend carer support group meetings.
• Consider arranging respite care to give you a break.
• Take one day at a time. While thinking about the future is normal, try and focus on the challenges of caring just one day at a time.
Please click here for more great advice on from Carers UK on looking after your health whilst caring.