Informal Carer Support for Sussex
Helping you and your family with caregiving
In order for the Comfort Keepers® care team to offer your loved one a holistic care package we feel we need to make sure you, as a major family carer, are taking care of yourself too. We know only too well that emotional bonds often make it difficult for the closest carer in the family to take a step back and consider their own needs. But caring responsibilities can be taxing, stressful and all-consuming and unless you can give back to yourself, not only will you suffer, but ultimately you may not be able to offer the best of your time to your loved one.
Take a look at some of our tips to help you keep strong in your caring responsibilities. Trust us – enjoying yourself and ensuring you enjoy life is very much a part of that!
For more information visit our respite care page.
It’s ok to ask for support
Often carers are left with the mistaken thought that they have to be the “strong ones.” Consequently, they tend to shy away from asking for help and support when it is needed. Our experience within the care industry has taught us that working alone leads to disaster. We all need a helping hand and direction. Take a look below at just some of the ways in which you can gain support and support others in your position:
- Visit your doctor regularly and share concerns you have about the effects of caregiving on your physical, mental and emotional health.
- Join a support group where you can share peer group thoughts and feelings and get some great experienced advice at the same time. Contact us to ask for details about a local support group.
- Seek support through your faith and your faith’s community. It can be a good source of volunteer caregiving help.
- Arrange for a family member, friend or volunteer from a church or senior centre to call you on a regular basis to see if you need any help.
- Maintain contact with friends for essential emotional support.
Learn as much as you can about caregiving and your loved one’s needs or illness. The more you know the more effective and more satisfied you can be.
Caring for yourself and preventing carer burnout
Ensure you get a full quota of sleep. Seven hours is considered to be the amount needed for the average adult. If you have bad patterns of sleep visit your GP for further advice.
Make sure your caring responsibilities do not get in the way of your own nutritional needs. Often carers find themselves eating on the hoof, eating unsubstantial fast foods, or missing out completely. Ensure your body is fuelled with regular, well-balanced meals.
- Keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. It provides an essential and instant release for your more negative emotions.
Confiding in others is just as important and it adds a further release to pent-up thoughts and feelings. Do not bottle up your emotions.
- Your needs and enjoyment are important if you are to succeed in your role as a carer. Stay involved in hobbies and social activities.
- Take time to pamper yourself—for instance, a warm bath, manicure or massage.
- Know your limits. You know what other responsibilities you have, so be realistic about how much time you can give to caregiving.
- Do not be afraid to delegate.
- Laugh. Find humour in everyday situations and take time out with a humorous book or movie.
How a support group can help you
- Get you out of the house on a regular basis and prevent isolation.
- Put you face-to-face with other informal carers who know what you are dealing with. From their experience, they can offer you relevant advice.
- Offer you information about local resources available to help you.
- Open the opportunity for new friendships.
- Enabling you to get support and advice as needed and when convenient for you.
- Providing support without having to leave the house, which could be particularly helpful for those with limited transportation or mobility.
- Providing the experience and knowledge of a broader pool of participants, which could be especially helpful if your loved one has a rare medical condition and special care needs.
Ensuring you are looking after yourself in the carer role is just the start. Sometimes you need to take time away from the caring environment in order to really charge your batteries and give precious time back to yourself. A respite could be just a day away with friends, an afternoon of personal errands, or an exercise break. Or it could be a vacation, away from it all.
Before planning respite care, be sure to talk with your loved one about it, explaining the up side for everyone. To help your loved one accept the idea, be sure to involve him or her in making the arrangements.
Often, family and friends want to help. They just do not know how. Just as you feel valued as a carer they are likely to feel valued when you ask them for help. As a carer, you can make it easy on them—and yourself—by always having a list of assignments ready, like preparing meals, picking up a few things at the grocery, going on a walk with your loved one, or staying with him or her from time-to-time.
You can find support from numerous sources:
- Relatives and friends, who can step in as needed
- Professional Home care providers, such as Comfort Keepers®
- Churches and other volunteer organizations
- Adult day care centres
- Clubs and Associations