6 Top Tips When Becoming A Carer
Since 2020, Carers UK estimated that there are around 13.6 million adults caring for their loved ones. That’s 1 in 8 adults providing unpaid care around the country. By the year 2037, it is also estimated that we will see a 40% increase in the number of carers needed. That’s an extra 2.6 million carers.
Becoming a Carer can involve a lot of stress and the pressure of it all can make things difficult to cope with. This is why, especially now during Carers Week that it’s important to know that there are support networks out there. Supports such as:
These groups are here to offer support, guidance, and a helping hand where they can. They advocate for Carers across the country and help increase awareness of unpaid carers. As it is Carers Week and the number of carers is growing, we wanted to share with you 6 top tips for becoming a Carer.
You don’t have to do it alone
Everyone wants to do their best for those they love and care for. That is why when it comes to caring for someone, it can be easy to slip into feeling like you need to do it all. However, caring doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing’. There is help out there, whether it be professional or family-based.
Why not ask other family members for help, share with them the tasks you need help with and allow them to pick and choose how they can help from that list. They will then be able to let you know how or where they can help you best.
Getting help is not failing, in fact it could be the most sensible thing you could do.
Often times, people can feel resentful of family members who can’t or won’t help and this can put added strain on your relationships. Give them a chance to step up and help you. Of course, if all else fails, there are a number of amazing services and supports out there, just like the supports we have mentioned above.
Manage your time
Caring for someone is a job and just like any other job, your timing is important. We’ve all heard the term ‘time management’ and it’s important, focusing on your time management will help you to prioritize what needs to get done and you would like to get done.
Why not split tasks in a to-do list and label them under the following to help get you started
- Urgent – I must get to the pharmacy for Mom’s prescription
- Important – I need to go grocery shopping to stock up the fridge for the week to make life easier at meal times
- Wants – Mom wants to be brought to get her hair done
Still, working? Talk to your boss
For many of the Carers out there, it is unpaid. Many still have their 9-5 jobs and still need to look after a loved one. This can put immense pressure on you and lead to conflicts with your work.
It can be hard to ask for time off for hospital appointments, checkup and care visits especially if your boss is unsupportive or even unaware. This is why it’s important to talk to your boss, let them know your current situation and see if there is any flexibility or support they can offer.
When we speak about support, this could mean offering flexible work hours, longer lunches or even sharing tasks out about the office.
Make time for you
Carers need caring for too! How can you care for someone when you can’t care for you?
You can’ t care properly for someone else if you are exhausted, stressed or completely worn thin. Ok, so what, it might sound or feel a little self indulgent but you must care for you too.
Make time for yourself, do something that you know will help you unwind and relax for example:
- Taking a long hot bath
- Getting enough sleep
- Get out to see family and friends – let them care for you for a change
- Do things that bring you joy – cuppa with a chunk of chocolate, a long walk or even day in the garden
- Find yourself a good listener and have a chat, get it off your chest
Accept the difficult emotions
Being a Carer doesn’t mean you should or have to feel all sweetness and light 24/7. To be honest, it’s unrealistic, even Mother Theresa would have issues there.
When you care for someone you love, you won’t always feel happy, giving or even caring. Sometimes you may even feel frustrated, annoyed or even hate the person you care for.
That’s OK, this can happen, it may be a fleeting feeling or last a little while but it’s OK. Just because you feel these things, doesn’t mean you have to act on them. By simply acknowledging them, can help you let them wash off you. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help, let it all out, it will help you blow off steam.
We’re all only human!
Feelings of Guilt? That’s OK
Ever hear of Caregivers Guilt? It’s a real thing and it can negatively affect your self-esteem, mental health and overall wellbeing.
This type of guilt can creep up on you, especially if you feel like you are not living up to an ideal (even if you set that ideal yourself) that has been placed on you. Caregivers guilt can creep its ugly head when:
- Feel like you don’t have enough time for caring
- You feel like you aren’t as patient as you should be with the one you care for
- Not giving your 9-5 the attention it needs because of caring responsibilities
- Neglecting your relationships
- Feeling resentful for what you have had to give up to be a carer
When this happens, try some of our tips below to try and help you shake it off:
- Be kind to yourself
- Take it one day at a time
- Recognise these feelings and try to understand that it’s ok
- Talk to an impartial party – talk to them about what is going on, they may help you gain a little perspective
- Remind yourself of all the good you have done and achieved