Carers: Finding strength in tough times
Carers may feel under pressure when caring for loved ones. Here are some places you can turn to for support in your role as a carer.
Your GP can not only help carers with the medical and practical care concerns they have, they can also help carers access a range of services to look after their emotional health. Stress, anxiety and depression are conditions that can be successfully treated with medication. If appropriate a GP may prescribe medication to help with mood swings or lift a depressive mood to help carers cope more effectively.
Alternatively, GPs can help carers access counselling and therapy services. Here, carers can speak to someone on a regular, one to one basis about their feelings, stress and emotions and learn techniques to cope with the pressures of caring.
Some carers are uncomfortable talking to friends and family about difficulties and feelings they encounter with their caring role. Counselling can offer help with specific concerns such as bereavement or conflict within the family, or with more general feelings of stress, depression and anxiety caused by caring.
Speaking to someone independent, like a counsellor, who does not know any personal background can be beneficial to carers as they can look at your world objectively and offer helpful advice on how to best cope.
Counsellors can be an invaluable resource for unburdening negative or stressful emotions, as they will often encourage you to openly discuss your concerns. Talking through concerns is the first step to identifying problems; counsellors can then offer more direct advice with any tough decisions you face.
Your GP or local social services should be able to advise you on local, trained counsellors, but you can also ask at a carers support group for recommendations. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy website can help you find registered, professional counsellors in your area.
In desperate or fraught times, carers may feel they need to talk to someone immediately. The Samaritans provide confidential, emotional support 24 hours a day and is available to anyone feeling stress or despair, over the phone or through e-mail.
Cruse Bereavement Care is a free service, which promotes the well being of bereaved people and enables anyone bereaved by death to understand their grief and cope with loss.
Talking to other carers can be helpful when dealing with difficult emotions as often they have had similar experiences and can offer a sympathetic ear. Other carers may be able to offer advice on alternative therapies, such as relevant self-help books, complementary therapies or local support services.
Some carers support groups have on-line social networking sites with blogs and forums. If you can’t spare time apart from the person you care for to speak to others face to face, you can access this help from your computer.
The Citizens Advice Bureau can offer independent advice on many aspects of caring including financial matters. The CAB can help carers understand what benefits they are entitled to and how to apply for these funds.
Local authorities provide services to carers to help them in their role though social services. It is a carer’s legal right to have a carer’s assessment, the purpose of which is to discuss with social services the help needed, including help to maintain your own health, and help balancing a caring role with other work and family commitments.