It’s good to have a network of support, such as friends, family and neighbours to help you care for your loved ones. Caring is very demanding on your time and your own mental health. Some days you might feel so drained that you just want to cry. You shouldn’t feel guilty about that, it is normal.
Bringing in support from other carers, family members or carers support groups can really help you to cope with the demands of the job.
Here are a few ways that you can access help and support from those around you to help you look after your loved one.
Share tasks with others
Setting up a simple rota to share caring tasks with family members, friends and neighbours can really help to improve the level of care you can offer. Share out tasks like shopping trips, phone calls, visits, trips to the doctors, cleaning and washing to make your workload more manageable. Taking this approach will mean that the person you’re caring for isn’t isolated, and you will find other surprisingly keen to help you, all the repayment they need is gratitude and the odd bottle of wine or other appropriate gesture.
Identify other people who could help
Finding other volunteers who can help you out with caring can really improve the quality of care that you can offer and take some of the load off of your shoulders. Approaching your local council or care agency is the best way to find out how you could get some extra help from volunteers.
There’s usually a high demand for services like this, so expect to be put on a waiting list. The volunteers will be able to carry out a range of different tasks not related to personal care– from taking your loved-one out on day trips, helping you with housework or just giving you the chance to talk to someone. These volunteers are really useful if you’re essentially housebound and don’t have any family or friends who can help you care for your loved one.
If you don’t want to deal with a waiting list, asking trusted neighbours or nearby friends if they can help keep an eye on the property and check in on your loved one from time to time can be a useful way of reducing your workload too. Give them an emergency number so that they can contact you if they notice a problem, and ask them to keep an eye out for odd signs, like lights going on and off and curtains being drawn during the day.
Family members can also be a good option if you’re looking for help too. They might be difficult to convince to help you though so you need to let them choose their own tasks to take on reality.
Consider enlisting the help of paid carers
Enlisting the help of professional, private or agency carers can significantly reduce the stress of having to care for loved one on your own. These carers will be able to help you with all kinds of different things – from carrying out caring duties through to running errands for you.
If you’re thinking about going down this route, you’ll need to make sure that you have enough monthly funds to be able to pay their wages and you’ll need to make sure that they have the right qualifications and insurance to look after your loved one correctly and safely. You could also contact your local council to request a carers assessment, to see what care you need and whether you are eligible for state funding.
Look after your own mental and physical health
Caring for someone will probably always be on your mind, so it’s easy to get burnt out. The best way to avoid that situation is to pay close attention to your mental and physical health and to take steps to relax. Find an activity that helps you to clear your mind and recharge your batteries. Mindful activities like yoga, knitting or drawing can really help you to relax, even just going for a walk can do you the world of good. Of course, the most important way to look after your mental and physical health is to recognise when you are really struggling and to ask others for help. Never be afraid to ask others for help or to speak about your feelings, thoughts and fears to other people.
If you’re looking for more advice about caring, industry websites like www.mind.org.uk and
www.carers.org can really help or get in touch with PrimeCarers for a no-obligation chat.