Caring and putting someone else’s needs before your own can be challenging, both mentally and physically. Stress, tiredness, isolation and financial worries can exacerbate an already difficult situation, so it’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed.
Here are some ways to help look after yourself:
Exercise and staying active, wherever possible, can help to lift your spirits – even pottering around the garden or walking to the shops helps. The NHS has some useful information about fitness for older people, including 10 minute workouts you can do in the home: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-as-you-get-older/
Keep up with your hobbies and activities if you can, to retain a sense of self and also give your mind a way to unwind. Whether it’s knitting, crosswords, swimming, or meeting a friend for coffee, you need some time for yourself to maintain a healthy balance in your life.
Talk to someone
Talk to someone about how you feel is simple but can be very surprisingly effective for your wellbeing. Sharing your feelings can help to reduce isolation and might help you get another perspective on any issues you might have. Try talking to someone you trust about how you feel, even if it feels difficult at first. You can also ask your GP whether they can give you information about finding a therapist.
There may be a local carer’s support group or centre nearby. Go to https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/get-support/local-support and choose your region and county or search for an organisation by name.
If you’re online, you can also chat to other carers and get support in online forums, such as:
- Carer’s UK Forum, offering support and understanding to the 6.5 million people caring in the UK
- Gransnet forum, a busy online community for carers over 50
- Simplyhealth Care Community, a place to discuss health and caring for loved ones, particularly in later life
Take a break from caring
Respite care is when someone else steps in to take over the care, so that you can have a proper break.
Respite care can mean different things, from some extra help for a few hours to arranging a full holiday. The main types of respite care are:
- day care centres
- homecare from a paid carer
- a short stay in a care home
- getting friends and family to help
- respite holidays
- sitting services
Costs can vary widely depending on the type of respite care needed. To see if you qualify for payment towards respite care from your local council, you will need to have a Carer’s Assessment (see below) and a Care Needs Assessment.
There are also some charities who can offer financial assistance towards respite care:
- Carer’s Trust has grants of up to £300 for adult carers
- Turn2Us is a national charity offering financial support and grants
Respite Association provides assistance in the funding of respite care
Get a Carer’s Assessment to find out what you are entitled to
As a carer, you are entitled to a Carer’s Assessment from the adult social services department of your local council (find your local council here). This is a way for your council to look at your responsibilities and decide if there is a way they can help you.
The assessment will take about an hour and someone from the council will ask you some questions about your caring role and how it impacts your life. Which? Later Life has a useful guide about preparing for a Carer’s Assessment.
Following the assessment, your local council might be able to offer you some extra support, such as:
- organising some cover so you can take a break from caring (respite care)
- help with domestic tasks such as housework or gardening
- emotional support such as counselling
- training about how to best care for someone e.g. lifting safely
- advice about benefits for carers
Consider starting some formal care
Professional care packages can start very small – it can be as simple as coming around and having a cup of tea and a chat, helping with the shopping, or helping to tidy up. Read more about the different care types that are available.
Care Sourcer is an entirely free service to help you find all types of social care services, using a searchable online directory of local care agencies.
If you need care urgently, our team of care experts are also available by telephone on freephone 0800 048 8618 to guide you through the process.