The simple truth is that in order to look after someone well, you need to look after yourself. Your needs are just as important as theirs.
You may have found that your quality of life has suffered due to your new role and it can be all too easy to fall into a pattern where your needs are set aside on behalf of the person you care for.
It is in fact a lot easier to cope with the pressures of caring if you are also caring for yourself. By maintaining both your emotional and physical health, you will be able to care to the best of your ability.
Consider letting your GP know you are a carer as they can often be a valuable source of information about medical and community services and support.
Coping with someone becoming dependent on you is a huge responsibility and it can be difficult to overcome feelings of duty towards the person you care for. However, an essential part of self-care is to get support from others and this is especially important when you are living in a situation that is emotionally and physically demanding.
Accept help from your friends and family when it is offered to you. If you say you are managing, they may not think to ask you again, which could result in you missing out on an invaluable source of support.
It is vital to take breaks away from the person you are caring for. Having regular time to relax and to do something that is just for you is crucial in recharging your batteries and maintaining your own life outside of caring.
If you are concerned that the person you care for will feel uneasy having someone else around them, try to think of different ways that would take the pressure off you. For example, even something as straightforward as a friend preparing dinner could give you half an hour to spend on yourself.
You may find it helpful to talk anonymously with other unpaid carers, either to ask for tips on adapting to your new role or simply as a way of venting your worries and frustrations to someone else in a similar position. In these instances, a good place to start would be the Carers UK Forum, a popular online message board that allows you to talk to other unpaid carers free of charge. Just sign up for a free account and you're off.
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