Information and support for family caregivers who may need strategies for coping with common emotions or pressures that come with their day to day life as a carer.
There are around 7 million people who identify as family carers in the UK, which is roughly 1 in 10 people.
When a family member ages, or becomes severely unwell or for any other reason requires dedicated care, it may be that the responsibility falls on you to provide that care.
It an be a very challenging role, which includes you helping them with medication, medical appointments, personal care, financial responsibilities and more.
There can be a lot of difficulties involved in providing care to a loved one including:
- A high level of physical demand
- A high level of emotional demand
- A drastic change to your home and its dynamics
- A huge change to your lifestyle
These kinds of challenges can result in a family caregiver feeling alone, stressed, frustrated and anxious. Without any coping strategies these feelings may develop into ‘burnout’, a common condition amongst family caregivers where they are simply at the end of what they can cope with. Avoiding burnout is really important because the result of being exhausted in this way is detrimental to both the carer and the person receiving care.
Avoid Feeling Alone
As a family carer you may feel a sense of loss and loneliness because your role at home has changed. Parts of your life before like running a business, or working for an employer, being a wife and mum may feel like they have been taken away from you. It is so important to retain your sense of identity and to remember you do still have a life beyond being an elderly carer. Reach out to friends and family members and to your GP and social services to make the most of resources around you. An afternoon of rest bite enabling you to have a coffee and a catch up with a friend can do the world of good. And at the very least, speaking to other caregivers online can be a really useful connection to the outside world.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Beating yourself up for feeling angry, frustrated, annoyed and other negative feelings towards your relative or about your relative or the situation you are in because of them is normal. However, you shouldn’t feel bad for feelings these emotions and instead, work towards preventing them as much as possible. A good care plan, keeping yourself active and healthy and getting support will help. Exercise classes like kickboxing or yoga are a great idea as the more you can release your feelings in a healthy way, the better.
Setup A Routine For Success
Sometimes, we can get stuck in a caregiving routine that comes from taking on the role quickly and adjusting quickly without having time to properly plan. If the caregiving role is going to be long-term for you, it is time to adjust your life accordingly:
- Look into allowances that might be available to you to help with adjusting your home
- Look into financial help you may be entitled to for your carer role
- Speak to friends and family about this being a long-term arrangement, so they understand your role and so that you can perhaps look at sharing the role with family members
- Have a really honest look at your job/ business and think about how your work-life looks for you in the future as a carer
Taking an honest look at your life as a caregiver can be scary, but it leads to adjustments that will make your life easier. You can have a full and happy life as a caregiver, but you have to setup a routine for success.
It is so important you reach out and get the help and support you deserve in this challenging caregiving role. Do look into financial support, respite and home adaptations. The more coping strategies you have, the better quality elderly care you can give, and the happier you will be in this role.