Carers provide unpaid care and support, usually to a family member, but sometimes to a friend or neighbour. About 1 in 8 adults in the UK is a carer, and six thousand people become a carer each day in the UK. Many combine caring with working, and many care for more than one person, perhaps a child and a parent at the same time.
What impact does becoming a carer have on a person’s wellebing? Carers UK quote a statistic saying that people providing high levels of care are twice as likely to suffer permanent illness or disability. From my own experience of working with carers, many neglect their own health and wellbeing in order to care for their relative. They may experience depression, stress, back and joint pain, and many are too busy to attend GP or hospital appointments.
But also Carers can feel proud of what they do, and gain a great deal of personal satisfaction and fulfilment. They may find that being a carer gives them a certain status and respect from healthcare and social care staff. There are also ways to meet up with other carers socially, and for support, and great friendships have been formed this way – and in one case that I know of, a marriage!
For some, their caring responsibilities have come as a development of their role as a parent, a child, or a sibling. The illness or disability may have come slowly over time, or it may have been as a result of a traumatic event – a stroke, heart attack, or an accident.
So what helps a person adapt to taking up a role as a carer and finding pleasure, or acceptance rather than holding onto anger and sadness, and grieving perhaps for what might have been?