Adjusting to life as a carer
When you are a carer for a loved one, either spouse or parent, there is a period of time to adjust to the new role. If you are caring for a parent, it appears to be a switch in roles, they cared for you and now you care for them. Your life is now changed.
This takes time to mentally adjust to the new situation and there is a grieving in doing so, as you have lost what you have before. However this grieving is very challenging, as it seems strange to grieve for someone who is still alive! Many carers are clinically depressed with the struggle of the change, the new role and the thanklessness of the situation, particularly if it is a deteriorating situation.
It takes time to adjust, to make changes in your life, to find the time that you used to do something else, to then use as a carer. And everyone in your immediate family has to adjust to that as well.
If you are working, then you can discuss any changes you might need to make with your employer. If you don’t want them to know, there is no requirement for your to tell them, but you will have to if you want them to make adjustments for you.
It takes a huge amount of mental energy to be a carer, which is disproportionate to the amount of time it takes to provide the hands on support of visiting and dealing with whatever needs sorting out.
It might also mean that you have to give up something that you did before, at least for a while or change it. When I was a carer, I made the decision not to go on long haul flights, it was just too far to get back, if there was a problem. And I didn’t go away short haul very much!
I hear a lot of comments about how stressful it is to be a carer and about how people are able to cope. People find ways to cope and it is useful to be mindful of your stress levels and find something that will allow you to deal with your stress, be kind to yourself. Having good mental health is one of the most important attributes of being a carer.
There is a lot of pressure on you, as a huge amount of the cost of care is undertaken by unpaid carers, so the health and social care systems are set up to take account of the support that people are given. It become something that appears expected, rather than treated with gratitude, as the generous gift of time and energy that it is.
The truth is, people get ill, people die, it’s not something families like to face, but nevertheless, it is true. If as a carer, you have turned up and done your best, then that is all you can do. You have done a good job and should be congratulated.
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