Anxiety can be very debilitating leaving a person unable to function or do basic things for themselves. This article though is for anyone who is caring for someone with a disability, physical illness or an anxiety disorder, including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
What is a carer?
You may not see yourself as a carer. If you are looking after someone with an anxiety disorder, or who is disabled or physically ill this may help you. It is important that you look after yourself and as a carer you have rights too.
Many people presume that because they are a member of a family , maybe a wife, husband or partner they may believe that is part of what they do. But as much as you love someone there may be days when you are anxious or stressed and you need support.
There are about 5.4 million carers in England who make it possible for people to have help at home. Sometimes we spend so much time being a carer that we can neglect our own needs. It is important you look after your own health and well-being.
Caring for someone else can often be demanding, and you are not alone if you feel overwhelmed at times. You might find some parts of life challenging and this may leave you feeling stressed and isolated.
There is help available in most communities, through your local health care and by using this support, it helps you feel more in control of your life and better able to cope with the ups and downs. Everyone may feel under pressure and suffer from anxiety or stress at times and please don’t underestimate the value of talking.
Sometimes people don’t wish to bother other family members or friends so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and ring our Helpline on 0300 7729844 for a chat to help manage your anxiety or stress levels. We can also be there to listen and give you support.
These might be some of the things you do for someone.
- giving emotional support
- helping someone cook and do the cleaning
- budgeting and looking after the finances
- giving medication
- reading information and filling in forms for someone who has concentration difficulties
Anyone can become a carer, no matter what their age, gender or background is.
What is a carer’s assessment? A carer’s assessment is for adult carers of adults (over 18 years) who are disabled, ill, suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder or are elderly. It is an opportunity to discuss with the local council what support or services you need. The assessment will look at how caring affects your life, including for example, physical, mental and emotional needs, and whether you are able or willing to carry on caring or need support or help.
When the person you care for has a needs assessment, the assessor will usually come to their home and talk to them about how they manage everyday tasks. They will look at the person’s health and disabilities and what they can and can’t do and how they would like to be supported. If accepted the person will discuss a care plan with the person.
They will also consider whether the person’s needs are great enough to have a significant impact on their well being which will make them eligible for help with the council. If so they will have a financial assessment to check whether the council will fund some or all of the money to help. The person doing the assessment will talk about you as the carer and what your thoughts and feelings are.
Carers organisations provide valuable practical help, information and support. These are some of the things that they will have information on what you can do as a carer:
- They provide support groups or information programmes
- Advocacy (helping you get your voice heard)
- Respite and leisure opportunities
- Help you plan for emergencies as well as the future
- Small grants for you to take a break
- Help for emergencies and the future
- Advice and support if someone goes into hospital
If you are working, talk to your manager because carers have rights at work too. For financial help speak to your local carers to ensure you are receiving everything you are entitled to.
Looking after yourself
Do any of these questions apply to you?
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Can you get out and do things by yourself?
- Are you eating well?
- Is your health being affected by caring?
- Can you cope with other family commitments?
- Is juggling work and caring difficult?
- Are you able to pursue your work or educational goals?
- Can you socialise and enjoy your hobbies in the way that you used to?
Social Services can help you find what is available in your area to help with your support and the person you care for. Services may be provided by Voluntary organisations, social services, health authorities or private agencies.
Care organisations can be enormously helpful, offering a variety of emotional and practical support. They will know what is available locally to support you and the person you care for to continue to take part in social activities or even take up something new. Keeping active and continuing with hobbies and friendships is not only enjoyable but good for your health.
Carers services are run by a variety of organisations and what they offer varies. They will all offer information, advice and guidance. They can help you to consider your own needs and inform you of your rights and entitlements as a carer.
They can help to relieve stress, improve health and promote well-being such as a gym membership, pamper session or having your hair or nails done. They can provide technology to support you such as a mobile phone or computer where it is not possible to access computer services from a local library. Give help with housework or gardening.
Mental Health or Anxiety Problems
If the person you care for has a mental health problem, you could have a look at Mind’s information booklets, either online or in print. You could also look at the Mental Health Foundation and Rethink websites. The Carers Trust and Carers UK have lots of information specifically for carers, and forums where you can exchange ideas with other carers. There is a lot of information about how to deal with anxiety and stress in our resources section.
If the person you care for does not want any help and support, you as a carer are still able to receive support, advice and information. Speak to your local carers service for more information about what is available in your local area.
If the person you care for needs more support, you may have concerns about the costs involved in getting care at home. As the carer you are not responsible for the cost of their care. If they have been assessed as needing care, they will also be assessed to see how much they can afford to pay towards the cost of services, while still having enough money to live on.
Caring can have a significant impact on both your physical and emotional health. It is easy to overlook your own health needs, but it is important for you to stay healthy. Tell your doctor that you are a carer and how this affects your ability to care for your own health.
They may be able to help by discussing ways to manage your health better if your caring responsibilities make it difficult for you to attend the Doctor’s surgery. It is so important to look after yourself properly. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet and keeping active and look after your emotional health. It’s easy to overlook your own health and not get enough rest and sleep.
It is not just about your physical health but also your emotional health. You might be struggling to manage or feel isolated or depressed. Try and talk to someone in the family or friends. Join a carers’ support group or there may be a group on line. Your doctor should know of local groups.
Support with other Carers
It can help to talk to other people who have faced similar situations. Even if their experience isn’t exactly the same as yours, finding common ground with other carers can make you feel less alone and isolated.
There are different ways that you can get in touch with others:
- Find a local carers group. You can find out what is available in your area by searching online, contacting NHS Choices’ Carers Direct, your local Mind, or Mind Information Line for details of groups in your area.
- Use an online forum for a discussion group for carers, for example, the Carers UK forum.
- Get in touch with a carers’ organisation or charity like Carers UK or Carers Trust.
Organisations that deal with specific conditions may also provide support for carers. For example, some local Minds provide support services to people who care for someone with a mental health problem.
Carers Direct – Government-run helpline for people living in or caring for someone in England. They can give you information to help you make decisions about your personal support needs, including information about assessments, benefits or work. They do not provide counselling or personal financial advice but they can direct you to local and national health specialists for further help.
Age UK – National charity providing information, advice and services to older people at both a national and local level. Website: www.ageuk.org.uk. Telephone: 0800 169 65 65
Carers Trust – We work to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems. Website: www.carers.org. Telephone: 0844 800 4361
Carers UK – National charity that provides expert advice, information and support to carers, we connect carers so no-one has to care alone and we campaign with carers for lasting change. They can offer practical advice on filling in forms and can carry out benefit checks. Website: www.carersuk.org. Telephone: 0808 808 7777.
Cruse Bereavement Care – Offers information and counselling to people who have experienced the loss of someone close. Website: www.cruse.org.uk. Telephone: 0844 477 9400.
Mind – A mental health charity providing advice and support. Website: www.mind.org.uk. Telephone: 0300 123 3393.
NHS Choices – NHS website providing information and advice on NHS services, healthy living and a wide range of health conditions. Website: www.nhs.uk.
Revitalise – A UK wide charity providing short breaks and holidays (respite care) for disabled people and carers. Website: www.revitalise.org.uk. Telephone: 0303 303 0145.
Turn2us – A UK wide charity that helps people in financial hardship to gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services. Website: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/