It might feel like you’re the only one dealing with this but actually the experience of looking after a family member, partner or friend is very common. One in every eight adults in the UK is a carer. It’s something that will happen to most people at some point in their lives – in fact every year, over 2 million people become carers for the first time.
At the start caring can be bewildering, confusing and demanding. No one is super human and all carers need some support and back-up. One of the most important things to accept is that you cannot do this all by yourself without serious risks to your health and well-being.
Family and friends
Many carers turn to family and friends for support and to help get a break from caring. In lots of cases this works out well and caring is shared. However if you find that family and friends are not helping as much as you’d like then our advice is not to hide the extent of your caring role.
Many carers don’t want people to think they aren’t coping so they gloss over how hard it really is. Your family and friends simply may not realise the level of care you are providing and the impact it’s having. They may find it hard to ask you or don't want you to think they are interfering. People may be reluctant to offer help in case you get the wrong end of the stick and think they are saying you can't cope!
However many carers do find themselves increasingly isolated. Friends and family don’t come round so often, invitations dwindle away and gradually your social life can decline. There may be many reasons for this but sadly, some people just don't know how to react to illness or disability and they find it awkward, so the onus might be on you to make the moves.
Even if you are isolated and caring alone, you are never alone with Carers UK. We have an online support forum that is open 24/7. In the forum you can form friendships with other carers and talk about the things you might not be able to tell your family or the person you care for. Our branches are run by carers and therefore understand how caring can affect your life and can offer you a listening ear and support on your doorstep.