Research carried out by Carers UK has shown how the physical and emotional strain put on the UK's six million carers can create health problems.
Many people are carers and everyone's caring situation is different. However, the fitter and healthier you are, the better you will be able to cope, both physcially and emotionally, with the demands of caring.
Taking Care of Yourself - keeping an eye on your health, emotional and physical, can make a real difference to the way you cope and how you feel.
Support - who can help?
GP Practice - If you have the same GP as the person you care for it will be easier for them to be up to date with what's going on. However, you may prefer to have a different GP as you may feel more at ease talking about things that worry you.
Your GP can help organise specialist nursing care at home or in a residential setting as well as respite care. They can refer you to district nurses; health visitiors; community psychiatric nurses; occupational therapists; and physiotherapists.
Social Services - Can let you know what services are available to support you - such as home care, meals on wheels, a break from caring and advice on adapting or altering the home. If the person you care for is provided iwth a good range of services, these in turn will support you.
Carers Assessment - Under the Carers Act you are entitled to ask social services for an assessment of your needs as a carer - what might help to make caring easier for your? Access to emergency services at times of crisis or in unforseen circumstances, and support in making appropriate plans for these, can give peace of mind when the unexpected happens.
Taking a break - This can be hard to organise if you are caring on your own and have no family or friends to take over and you may get into the habit of not having time off; but it is important to even have just a few hours off.
The benefits maze - Many carers who are entitled to claim benefits and allowances, for themselve or the person they care for, fail to do so either because it seems so complcated or because it feels like asking for charity. Social Services should be able to tell you what allowances and benefits you and the person you care for are entitled to.
Carers' groups - Other carers are in a good position to offer advice and support. Those who are caring for someone wit hthe same illness or disability are likely to have good ideas and tips on making life easier.