As an unpaid carer, it is important to look after your own health, so you can maintain a quality of life and your ability to care is not affected. The following information is important for all unpaid carers;
- Register with your GP – telling your GP that you are an unpaid carer will help them to understand and support you better
- Health Checks – prioritise your own health. Ask your GP for a health check. Carers Trust Solihull also provide quarterly health checks for carers. You can also monitor your own blood pressure.
- Flu Vaccine – unpaid carers are a priority group, so you are entitled to get this for free by asking at your GP practice. This vaccine is important for you as a preventative measure for the person you care for.
- Stress Management – being an unpaid carer can be stressful, so it is important to recognise your stress triggers and know how to manage stress in your daily life. Carer Training – Carers Trust Solihull offer a range of workshops that look at different aspects of caring including first aid awareness and coping with stress. We also provide Emotional Freedom Technique training and Mindfulness Courses.
- Relaxation – Carers Trust Solihull provide relaxation days where carers can access free therapeutic treatments and health advice.
- Emotional Support – Sharing how you’re feeling, letting off steam and offloading is essential to manage your stress levels. It’s not easy to talk to those close to you sometimes, so Carers Trust Solihull offer emotional support over the phone and face to face.
YOUR HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Remember, to be of help to the person you care for, you must first look after yourself!
As a carer you have needs like anyone else, there is a need to take care of the physical self and the emotional self. A carer’s lifestyle is frequently restricted and many carers can and do become physically and mentally exhausted by their caring role.
If you don’t look after yourself you may not be able to look after the person you care for, so it is important and in fact good sense to think about your own needs as well.
Remember, just because you are caring for someone does not mean that you don’t have your own health needs. It is paramount that you get those niggling health problems dealt with. If you have difficulty getting someone to sit with the ‘cared for’ or you can only be out for a short time, we would recommend that you have a conversation with your GP Practice and ask if they can either do a home visit or fit you in at a more convenient time to suit i.e. the beginning of surgery. Don’t forget to make sure your GP practice have you registered as a carer as this may help them to understand your health needs better.
Do not ignore sleeping difficulties, sudden weight loss or gain, constant thirst, fainting or giddy attacks, constant tiredness; they could be a symptom of an underlying health condition.
Being physically active doesn’t have to mean vigorous exercise like jogging, but it is clear that keeping active has many benefits for our health. It can help to lower stress levels, improve sleep patterns and improve physical strength and dexterity.
We exercise in many ways, for instance carrying out daily household tasks is exercise but don’t forget the benefits of undertaking exercise we choose to do rather than those daily chores; a brisk walk in the park, taking the dog out etc.
An exercise class i.e. / tai chi or yoga can strengthen muscles and help relieve tension; you can then practice regularly in your own home if you wish. Remember it is always advisable to check with a health professional before you start any exercise changes if you have health concerns.
Staying active is important in preventing back pain, but you can follow some simple tips to help prevent back problems from developing.
- Exercise your back regularly. Walking, swimming (especially backstroke) and using exercise bikes are all excellent ways to strengthen your back muscles.
- Always bend your knees and your hips, not your back.
- Never twist and bend at the same time.
- Always lift and carry objects close to your body.
- Try to carry loads in a rucksack and avoid sling bags.
- Maintain a good posture. Avoid slumping in your chair, hunching over a desk or walking with your shoulders hunched.
- Use a chair with a backrest. Sit with your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest. Change how you sit every few minutes.
- Quit smoking. It is thought that smoking reduces the blood supply to the discs between the vertebrae and this may lead to degeneration of these discs.
- Lose any excess weight.
- Choose a mattress suited to your height, weight, age and sleeping position.
Moving and Handling
Moving and handling can be very important when caring for someone with mobility difficulties. You should always seek a professional assessment from either a physio (accessed via your GP) to advise on walking aids for the ‘cared for’ or an occupational therapist accessed (via your local social authority and/or health team) for moving and han-dling equipment. You can view the problems with moving and handling and the risks to your own health at (for examples, look below):
With all your time spent on caring and perhaps on a reduced income, eating well may seem low on the priorities, but a healthy balanced diet can help you feel less tired and improve your overall wellbeing. For more information you can visit:
On this site you can do a healthy eating self-assessment which can help you achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Looking after your health and nutrition
Looking after your mental health and wellbeing
Self help and care