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Support for carers: Your health and wellbeing

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

If you are an informal carer and are worried about how to care for someone during coronavirus (COVID-19), there is information, advice and support available to help you.

For more information see Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information, advice and support for informal carers.

Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Your health and wellbeing
  3. Financial support
  4. Your career
  5. Your future
  6. Support groups
  7. Support services

Your health and wellbeing

Caring for someone can be very rewarding, but very demanding and exhausting.

It can affect your own health and wellbeing.

It's natural to put the cared for person's needs first, but caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a carer.

It's important that you think about your own health and wellbeing and how this can be affected in your caring role.

Emotional health

The emotional impact of caring can be demanding at times. The high demands on you and your time can leave you feeling out of control.

This can affect your confidence and self-esteem, and your ability to cope with everyday tasks.

Giving all your time and attention to someone else can leave you feeling socially isolated, with no time to think about your own needs and how to meet them.

Looking after yourself (self care)

Caring can be tough, so making time for self care is important.

There are lots of things you can do to make sure you stay well while providing the best care you can.

You may feel too busy to focus on your own health and wellbeing but it is important to stay well and think about if you became unwell, who will provide the necessary care to the person you're caring for.

There are some simple ways to help you stay fit and well:

  • Eat well
    Food can have a big impact on your mood and energy levels. Eat healthy, regular meals with as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible, and drink plenty of water.
  • Rest and sleep
    Tiredness can lead to low mood and depression. Try to create a regular sleeping pattern. This may need to fit around the care you provide. For example, you may be able to split your sleep around the activity and sleep of the person you care for.
  • Exercise
    Physical activity can be a big help as it releases "feel-good" hormones into your system, helping your metabolism and giving you some head space. Even a regular short walk instead of using the car or the bus can make a difference.

Talk to someone about how you're feeling

Sharing your feelings and worries can be difficult.

You may feel like talking is pointless if it can't change anything, or you may not want to "put upon" others.

Talking to a trusted friend, someone who is experiencing something similar, a counsellor or even a stranger can have a positive impact on how you are feeling.

Talking about something that's not related to your caring role can be uplifting too.

You could join a group or an evening class. There are lots of online resources such as forums and social media you could use for support.

Your local library can provide access to these resources and local organisations such as Age Concern Tyneside South and Bliss=Ability can provide support to get online.

There are lots of support groups and organisations available locally that provide counselling services, and can put you in touch with other carers to share your experiences.

Check on your wellbeing

Please think about the statements below:

  • Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed?
  • Do you have the opportunity to take time away from caring, to do the things you enjoy?
  • Does caring leave you with enough time and energy to get to the shops and other places where you need to go, and to take part in leisure activities that matter to you?
  • Are you able to spend enough time on other family responsibilities, eg being with your children, your partner, parents or siblings?
  • Would you like help or information about meeting other carers for mutual support?

If you are struggling to maintain a life outside of your caring role, South Tyneside Adult Carers Service (STACS) can tell you about carer groups or link you with other carers and support to help you take a break. Contact them on 0191 406 1531.

Physical health

Your own physical health is important and help is available to make sure you have your own regular health checks.

If you're aged between 40 to 74 years old and without a pre-existing condition, you can get a free NHS health check every five years.

Change4Life South Tyneside can support you with stopping smoking, cutting back on alcohol, healthier eating, how to get more exercise and much more.

Find out more:

Change4Life South Tyneside

Check on your wellbeing

Please think about the statements below:

  • Is there anything about your physical health that worries you?
  • Have you been offered any type of health check or screening in the last year but not taken up the offer?
  • Have you had a fall or any problems with your balance in the last year?
  • Do you get any pain when moving or handling the person you care for, or using any equipment?
  • Have you often felt down, depressed or hopeless recently?
  • Have you experienced any of the following:
    • Increased thirst
    • Increased passing of urine or blood in your urine
    • Changes in your bowel habits, or blood in your stools
    • Changes in your breasts/chest (this also applies to men)
    • Chest pain
    • Breathlessness
    • More tired than usual
       

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you should call your GP surgery to make an appointment, if you haven't already done so.

Prevention and early intervention is always the best option and in most cases a GP consultation will give you peace of mind and one less thing to worry about.

Organising your time

Try to prioritise your time.

There are some daily tasks that have to be done at specific times, such as getting children to school, preparing and cooking meals and providing medication.

It can help to know what has to be done when, and to know when you can be more flexible with your time.

Some tips on how to organise your time are:

  • Create a daily planner with all of the priority tasks timetabled in.
  • Identify any flexible time slots.
  • Have important and emergency information such as GP, pharmacy contact, social worker, district nurse details, all in one easy to access place.

Make time for yourself

Don't forget to make some regular time for you.

Having coffee with a friend or neighbour, enjoying a hobby or going for a walk can give you some time out from your caring responsibilities, and can help you from feeling isolated.

Being able to relax and enjoy the moment is a valuable skill. There are many techniques you can learn to maximise your relaxation such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.

Many community centres and local education centres run classes and there are plenty of CDs, DVDs and books available to help you learn.

For further tips on how you can help your own wellbeing go to Wellbeing Info.

If you need a break from your caring role even for a few hours, South Tyneside Adult Carers Service (STACS) or the Council's Let's Talk Team can give advice and guidance on support that may be available to you.

Where you can get help

Next page: Financial support

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