One in 10 people in the UK cares for a family member or friend, and that figure is expected to rise in the coming years. Support for carers isn’t just about financial help but mental and emotional well-being too. If you’re caring for someone, how can you make sure your needs are supported too?

The pressure of caring

Carers rarely think twice about helping the person they love. When a loved one falls ill, it’s natural that you step in to care for them. But when an illness is long term, the pressures on being a carer soon begin to mount.

Many people find the role of carer and looking after their loved one rewarding, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t need support at some point.

Financial support

If you have to give up work or reduce your hours, the impact on your household income will places stress on you and the person you’re looking after, especially when specialist equipment may be needed.

Carers in poverty may not be able to afford things that we usually take for granted, such as keeping the house warm, warm clothes, taking a holiday, home repairs and maintenance or running a car.

Many carers say that caring for someone can feel like a constant battle, from finding the right support to dealing with agencies and various departments to fight for the help and support that they and their loved one needs. And this battle extends to getting financial help too.

Make sure you are accessing the financial support you are entitled to.

Physical and emotional health

Caring is physically exhausting. From disturbed sleep to lifting or physically supporting someone who is a lot heavier than you, the physical demands are high, more so if you’re also working and raising a family.

It’s not uncommon to find carers dealing with a high level of stress, depression and other mental health issues. Relationships can suffer too. Not being able to enjoy the life you once had or feeling your future plans slipping further from your grasp can leave you feeling isolated and frustrated.

Getting out and about can be difficult. For many carers, finding someone to look after their loved one while they take a break is hard, leading to physical isolation as well as loneliness.

And then there’s the emotionally stressful time of when caring ends. As well as the grief of losing someone, the role you have played for so long is also gone, potentially leaving you bereft and even more isolated.

What help is available?

It’s important to keep a pool of friends and family close so that you have outlets to talk and share your concerns and issues, as well as the good times. Connecting with a local carers’ network is also a great way of meeting people in similar situations. As well as emotional support, you can keep up to date with changes that are beneficial to you and the person you’re caring for.

The important thing to remember is you’re not alone. By reaching out, you’ll find help and support is right on your doorstep.