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Getting the balance right

June 19, 2012


Having been a carer, both as an adult and young person, I experienced the varying demands and requirements it can make of you for most of my life. In terms of prolonging and maintaining your health as a carer, there are a number of things to consider.

For example, for me, the first thing was actually identifying myself as a carer. This took me a long time, as I was just doing what anyone would have done in my position: taking care of my parent/s. Somehow this didn’t equate with being  a ‘carer’, this was about supporting my family.

Having identified myself as a carer, I still just ‘got on with it’ as I thought I could just cope however long I was going to be a carer for. However, what happened to me was I moved from full time work to part time work, as I simply couldn’t cope with the flexibility that being a carer required in my situation. My employers were very sympathetic and understanding, but it was just too difficult trying to juggle the plates!

So having gone part time, it was easier to cope with my caring responsbilities, but it hit my finances big time as I was earning a lot less. And so I struggled on, although I was under pressure juggling the money situation around the caring. Not an easy situation and it did cause me a lot of stress, even if I was reluctant to admit it. Yet I still didn’t seek any help or support for me, I think I started to become numb to everything and kind of ‘switched off’.

This wasn’t anything to do with my mum and/or dad being awkward or anything like that, it was how I was coping, or rather not coping! The thing was that after sliding into this place, it was very diffcult to feel anything at all. It was almost as if I’d ‘closed down’. I was functioning, but not really enjoying much, and the whole situation was clouded with uncertainty.

Looking back, we should have accessed help and support at a much earlier stage in the caring situation, as it is extremely hard to plan ahead, as things always have a habit of changing and glitching, so you need to adapt, and often at short notice. People who hadn’t been carers themselves thought it was quite straightforward organising things, but, such is the reality of people’s lives who require help and support, that the one constant was change!

Having said all this, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t access information, support and advice. It’s just important to look in the right places and do it as soon as you can. By talking to people who have been there and done it, you are likely to get some great tips to help you and benefit from the understanding that experience can bring.

Whilst everyone’s situation will be unique, there are certain issues that everyone will experience as carer and that, in itself, is one good reason to seek out advice and assistance to help you make informed decisions in what is likely to be an evolving and changing set of circumstances.

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