When you are busy looking after someone else, it is all too often easy to overlook caring for yourself. You may be one of many who finds it to be a pleasing role, however there will no doubt be times when you may need some time to yourself to pursue some of your own interests. This may be for just a few hours or maybe longer for a short holiday.
Caring for someone who has complex needs can often be both physically and mentally exhausting, especially if you are the main carer. You may experience sleep deprivation, feel lonely and isolated and at times, depressed. Many carers feel guilty at having these feelings and will pretend to others that they are coping just fine. Even if there is an offer of a few hours respite, these are often spent catching up on household chores or shopping for groceries.
You may be able to get some respite care to help you take a break. This may be by employing an alternative carer to sit with the person you care for, or to take them to a local day centre or you can maybe arrange for them to temporarily stay in a residential home. Many of these will incur costs but you may be able to get some financial support from the council, alternatively there are some charities and benevolent funds that may be able to help.
Having quality, restful time for yourself is an essential part of being a carer and even more so if you are a sole carer for someone. After all, think what would happen to the person you care for if you fell ill? Here are a few suggestions on how you can help your situation:-
- Ask family members or friends if they would be willing to take over for a few hours on a regular basis. Ensure they have the correct training so that you have peace of mind when leaving.
- The Carers Trust works to improve support, services and recognition for carers – 0844 800 4361
- Admiral Nursing Direct can offer practical advice and emotional support to anyone caring for or affected by dementia – 0845 257 9406
- Alzheimer’s Society offers information, support and signposting to other organisations on 0300 222 11222 (Alzheimer’s Scotland 0808 3000)
- Age UK’s website has a wealth of information for carers’ support including financial help – www.ageuk.org
- Macmillan Cancer Support offers information and advice on 0808 8080000 or www.macmillan.org.uk
- Guidepost Trust runs the Dementia Information Service for Carers on 0845 120 4048
Try to spend your free time doing something that is positive and involves social interaction with others. Maybe join a group such as a walking group, craft group, book club or bridge club. It may be something as simple as sharing a coffee and cake with a friend and catching up on the latest gossip, whatever you do it will have a beneficial effect on your self-esteem and will result in you being a better carer.