When caring for your loved one becomes too much

When looking after somebody else, it’s crucial to think about your own needs too

Being a family carer can bring with it a great deal of satisfaction, given that your loved one is being looked after by someone who genuinely cares for them. But there’s no denying that it can be an overwhelming and thankless task that leaves little time for thinking about your own needs.

Looking after yourself isn’t just crucial for your own wellbeing, it allows you to be best carer and puts you in good place to give a loved one your utmost support.

Coping as a carer 

Here are some ways you can ensure that you find the right balance between supporting your loved one and maintaining your own health.

  • Build a ‘care team’

Don’t feel like you have to handle everything on your own. If you don’t want to introduce professional care just yet, ask family and friends if they’re willing to take on a few of the responsibilities. Offer tasks they feel comfortable with, and regularly share details of your love one’s ongoing needs to ensure that everyone is has the information they need to do a good job.

  • Manage your time

Time management is all about prioritising and accepting that you just won’t be able to do everything. This is especially important if you’re caring for someone while in other employment. Some things just have to be sacrificed and it helps to group your tasks according to urgency, e.g. ‘Urgent – can’t wait’, ‘Important – can wait’, and ‘Nice to have’. Fitting it all in will become more feasible.

When caring for your loved one becomes too much
  • Watch for burnout

 Becoming someone’s carer is physically and emotionally demanding. You’re handling all this while at the same time dealing with everyday life! All the demands will eventually take their toll. Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re feeling burned out. Allow yourself some space to gain a better perspective. Ask family members to step in while you have a break. If this is not possible, consider getting professional care to relieve some of the pressure. 

  • Separate out ‘chores’, ‘companion’ and ‘you’ time

Supporting your loved one can often come at the cost of ‘quality time’ with them – something you both used to enjoy. Make sure you earmark some time to just talk, or do something that you both enjoy, to keep your loving relationship strong.

  • Find support networks

 Maintaining friendship networks is so important for your own wellbeing and for giving you the energy to keep on caring. Online support networks specifically for people in your position can be a lifesaver. Care communities are always just a few clicks away thanks to major UK carer forums such as Carers UK, Talking Point, Dementia Forum and Caring.com.

When caring for your loved one becomes too much
  • Watch out for the strain it can put on your relationships

Don’t forget about the other important people in your life. Your other relationships can be become strained as you devote more time to caring and less time to your partner or children. Have that open conversation with your nearest and dearest and make it clear that they’re not any less loved than they used to be, and that you want to help your elderly loved one in their hour of need.

  • Accept the guilt

Caregiver guilt is a real phenomenon, affecting your self-esteem, wellbeing and ability to cope with life in general. It’s also normal to feel resentful about what you are giving up, especially if you feel like you’re being taken for granted. Talk to somebody about how you feel and remind yourself how selfless you are in giving up so much time to care.

Try to be realistic about the time that you are able to deliver care. Go into it with your eyes open, acknowledging the enormity of the task and what you would be giving up. Be sure to ask for both practical and emotional help and try not to beat yourself up if you think things have gone wrong. Don’t forget – you’re only human, and a very selfless one too!

Find out more about our care services here.
When caring for your loved one becomes too much