The care provided by a family carer varies, from people balancing work with caring, people visiting someone in residential care or hospital to people providing continuous support in the home each day.
As a family carer for an ailing parent, child, spouse, or other loved one, a carer is likely to face a host of new responsibilities, many of which may feel unfamiliar or intimidating. At times, family carers may feel overwhelmed and alone. But despite its challenges, care-giving can also be rewarding. And there are a lot of things that can be done to make the caring easier and more pleasurable for carer and cared-for.
Providing care for a family member in need is an act of kindness, love, and loyalty. And as life expectancies increase, medical treatments advance, and increasing numbers of people live with chronic illness and disabilities, more and more of us will become family carers.
Being calm and relaxed and taking the time each day to really connect with the person you’re caring for can release hormones that boost your mood, reduce stress, and trigger biological changes that improve your physical health. And it has the same effect on your loved one, too.
Even if the person you’re caring for can no longer communicate verbally, it’s important to take a short time to focus fully on him or her. Avoid all distractions such as the TV, phone, and computer. Of course, if you’re distracted, burned out, or otherwise overwhelmed by the daily grind of your role as carer, you’ll likely find such connection difficult. That’s why it’s vital that while you're caring for your loved one, you don't forget about your own needs.
Exercise regularly. Try to get in at
least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week.
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and boost
your energy, even if you’re tired.
Eat right. Keep your energy up and your mind clear by eating nutritious meals at regular times throughout the day.
Avoid alcohol and drugs. It can be tempting to turn to substances for escape when life feels overwhelming, but they can easily compromise the quality of your care-giving.
Get enough sleep. Aim for an average of eight hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep every night to help you maintain energy levels and handle stress.
Keep up with your own health care. As a carer, you need to stay as strong and healthy as possible.
time to relax daily and learn how to
regulate yourself and de-stress when you start to
Talk with someone to make sense of your situation and your feelings. There’s no better way of relieving stress than spending time face-to-face with someone who cares about you.
Keep a journal.Some people find it helpful to write down their thoughts and feelings to help them see things more clearly.
Feed your spirit.Pray, meditate, or do another activity that makes you feel part of something greater. Try to find meaning in both your life and in your role as a carer.
Watch out for signs of depression, anxiety, or burnout and get professional help. If needed contact local and national carer support organisations.
Being a carer gives you the unique opportunity to make a
real difference to a person, supporting them in every
aspect of their life.
Many family carers say the reason they care is simple: they need to look after their...