"If you were to care for someone else the way you care for yourself, would you be guilty of neglect..?"
Look after yourself
There is no doubt that without the right support caring can all too easily damage your health. It is not an easy balance to find, but remember – the better your physical and emotional wellbeing, the better you will be able to cope with the demands of caring. You can also download our helpful Information Book and Help Guides from here.
- Tell your GP that you are a carer & ask them to write the details on your notes. You are entitled to regular health checks, a flu jab and a carers assessment. Some GPs may offer special flexibility with appointments, or may be more willing to make home visits when they understand your situation. Carers are usually busy and sometimes don't find time for their own health. A good GP who understands carers can be a gateway to getting all kinds of help, such as counselling, other medical services, and referrals to your local Social Services or Social Work Department.
- Watch your stress levels. Stress is a fact of life for most carers. One carer put it like this: “When a dog goes to sleep, it’s got one ear up. That’s what it’s like to care for someone.” Not being able to relax has long-term detrimental effects on your health. It’s easier said than done but it is vital that you learn to recognise the signs of stress and take action. Speak to the Carers Centre about some relaxation techniques, training or some respite/break.
- Look after your back. You may find that lifting the person you care for, helping them dress or move around places a strain on your back. It may be impossible to avoid lifting and handling the person you care for but you can get advice and guidelines that may reduce the risk of injury. Also speak to the Carers Centre about moving & handling training.
- Ask others to help – many people want to help but don’t know how. Give them specific things you need doing and specific times you need them to come. They may well be pleased to be asked.
- Don’t feel alone. Get in touch with other carers or other people with interests similar to yours. Consider coming along to a local Carers Support Group to meet other people who understand. If it’s difficult to get out, you could join an online group if you have access to a computer.
If you are struggling to maintain your relationship whilst caring, you may find the information here helpful. These new relationship guide promotes early action in relationship support with focus on prevention rather than crisis intervention. It also provides unpaid carers with advice to help them cope with the strain that caring can put on relationships.
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