Caring can be stressful as well as rewarding. However, it is important that you not only look after the health of the person you are caring for, but your own health as well. Look at our simple advice on how to:
Don't ignore your own health needs! Try not to miss your own medical appointments; attend regular check-ups and screenings when you are called. As soon as you begin caring, inform your own doctor, so they will find it easier to diagnose, advise and support your needs in the future. GP Surgeries across Surrey may now prescribe Carers Breaks as part of their clinical decision on what is best to meet your physical and emotional needs. Nearly all GPs across the county have signed up to the scheme, so it is worth you talking this over with your GP.
Do you find you don't have time to have a proper meal; you have little appetite, that the cost of food is a problem or that it is hard to get to the shops regularly?
It is important that you eat well, as a good, well-balanced diet will not only give you the energy you need to carry on caring, but it will also boost your immune system and reduce your risk of falling ill.
The BBC website has good information about nutrition, dietary requirements for different age groups, advice on how to eat well and keep illnesses away. The Better Health Channel also has a wide range of healthy recipe ideas.
Carers often have to cope with many conflicting feelings. Being a carer can be rewarding but it can also be demanding, frustrating and upsetting.
It is important to recognise that you can love someone and still feel angry, guilty, depressed or resentful. These feelings are normal. It may help to talk about your feelings with a trained counsellor or another carer. Sharing positive feelings of love or satisfaction that you are doing your best helps too.
It may seem as if everything revolves around the person you care for, but you also have some basic needs too - privacy, personal space, time to be with friends and time to have fun.
Share these needs and wishes with your social worker or care manager, or you may wish to join your local carers group. There are teams of Carers support workers around Surrey, who can also help you with information and emotional support.
Carers often go short of sleep - either because the person they care for needs attention during the night or because they have too much on their minds to be able to relax. Try these techniques to help you sleep better:
Carers tend to carry on regardless through colds, coughs, headaches, stomach upsets, flu and worse.
Back pain is common among carers. Even the simple task of helping someone to dress or move from a bed to a chair can take its toll on your back.
Get assessed and shown the correct way to lift and move someone safely with minimal risk to yourself. Your GP can refer you to the district nurse or community physiotherapist, who will be able to do this.
Think about getting some lifting and turning aids to help you. An occupational therapist can advise on what is most appropriate. You may also find it helpful to contact your local Back care advisor. If you have back pain, don't ignore it. Contact your GP for help and advice.
The primary care team should be your first point of contact when you need medical or nursing help. The primary care team comprises of people such as general practitioners (GPs), midwives or health visitors.
They will be able to either prescribe medication or treatment to resolve the heath problem or refer you to a hospital or specialist for further investigations or treatment.
Don't forget to register that you are a carer with your GP as soon as possible. GP's are now able to keep records of carers, which enables them to be as effective as possible in delivering services to carers in their local community.
NHS services want to know what you think about the services they provide.
If you have a general comment about the NHS contact your Healthwatch Surrey, which is an independently supported network that aims to give citizens a stronger voice in how their health and social care services are delivered.
You have the right to make a complaint about any aspect of NHS treatment using the NHS complaints procedure.