Looking after yourself

posted in: Health, News

Berkshire Carers Service’s top tips

How many times have you put off going to the doctor for yourself but always found a way to make sure the person you care for gets to their GP or hospital appointment?

In a role that can include being a part-time nurse, counsellor, comforter, money manager, driver, dispenser of medicines, purchaser of clothes, shopper, cleaner, launderer, cook and intermediary with agencies it’s no wonder carers often neglect their own health because they simply don’t have time to attend to it.

But with carers reporting disturbed sleep, difficulty managing to eat a balanced diet, physical and emotional exhaustion, anxiety about the person they care for, worries about work and money it’s vital to balance the many practical and emotional difficulties that come with caring with a positive side.

It’s all too easy to put the person you care for first but looking after yourself is the best way to ensure you are able to continue caring. In fact, it’s essential. We know this is easier said than done but what would happen if you became too ill to care?

Our top tip for carers is to make yourself a priority. Paying more attention to yourself can be very positive for you and the person you care for.

Most of us know what we should do to keep well but when you are stressed it’s only natural that it seems too much effort and trouble to do something for yourself or convince ourselves that a relaxing bath won’t help.

Here are some ideas; go on give at least one a try. It won’t solve everything but it just may help. Try to do one good thing for yourself each day, week or month – whatever works for you.

Be informed

Make sure you are fully informed about the help available to you. Don’t wait until you’re in crisis to get help!

Join a group.

There are dozens of groups in the community. (link to our activities)

Talk to someone

Try talking to friends and family. You may think talking never solved anything but many carers tell us that talking is one of the most important types of help they can get. Your family and friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear. Local services are also there to help you. If it’s not easy to talk to family or friends you can go on-line and chat with other carers. Talk to your GP if you think you would benefit from seeing a counsellor. A counsellor will not tell you what to do, but will encourage you to develop confidence in your own ability to help yourself

Tell your GP you are a carer

Make time to see your GP to discuss any stress or depression or sleep problems and remember to ask them to put you onto their Carers’ Register.

Tell your employer

Talk to your employer to see what help or support they might be able to offer, such as flexible working arrangements, carers leave or time off

Have a break

Take regular breaks from caring. Caring can be hard work and stressful and it’s important to take time for yourself to do things you enjoy. Make sure you have had a Carer’s Assessment and speak to Crossroads Care about arranging care for the person you are looking after. You may also be able to get financial help towards the cost of a break from your local authority

Lastly…

Don’t forget to eat well and take some exercise.