A carer must also find time for themselves
In the previous article, we looked at the many causes of stress when we care for a loved one.
How do we know when the stress is becoming too much and what can we do to address this?
You may find you don’t get out much as all your time is focused on care. You may argue with the person, and conflict with other family members becomes more common.
You feel restless and lack energy, but also anxious, worried or angry. This can be accompanied by heartburn, upset stomach, headaches or palpitations. Concentrating becomes harder and you become forgetful. Sleep becomes affected, and even when you sleep you never feel fully rested. It is also common to feel guilty.
What you are experiencing is burn-out, and this is not going to get any better unless you start looking after yourself.
A first step is to find support networks in your area. These can be great sources of emotional, social, physical and financial support.
Don’t feel bad about asking family and friends for help. This may come in the form of time, knowledge or money.
Investigate day care facilities. They offer therapeutic or support services. If you need equipment, check if you can hire it or if it comes from the NHS. Your GP can be a good starting point.
Check out respite care. This can help you re-charge your batteries. Don’t be afraid to find out about resources before you need them. For example, do not delay researching nursing homes, and if the time comes you won’t need to deal with such a momentous decision in a rush.
More importantly, try to keep a balance in your life and maintain interests. Be realistic about what you can achieve and look after yourself: eat well, exercise, try to find time for yourself and do not feel guilty for that.
Anna Dallavalle is a counsellor working with individuals and couples and has a private practice in Morpeth. For information visit www.steppingstonesne.co.uk