Are you a hidden carer?

Here at TextCare we care about carers. Many people do not even consider themselves to be a carer. I know I did not identify myself as one when I was looking after my father. I was his daughter and he was my dad. I was a hidden carer; and like millions of others, in the UK, was juggling caring for a family member alongside a career and raising my own children. I know only too well how tough this can be and I did not know what support I was able to access.

It can be a difficult balancing act and it can feel like there is always something that needs attending to, shopping, cooking, medical appointments, organising bills, taking medication, cleaning; the list goes on. As a carer it is easy and understandable to put the needs of the other person first and all too often carers neglect themselves. In my working life I have the privilege of meeting lots of wonderful people who are carers; husbands, wives, sons, daughters and friends. What often strikes a chord with me is how tirelessly they put the needs of someone else before their own and just how quick they are to brush off any praise or recognition. I think these people are commendable even if they do not see it for themselves. Here are some useful tips, advice and facts for all those hard-working carers out there.

What is a carer?

If you provide support to someone, such as a spouse, parent, friend or relative who has an illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and they cannot cope without your support then you are a carer. A carer is different to a professional care worker or someone from a voluntary organisation because you will have some level of emotional attachment to them. A carer can be a 14-year-old daughter looking after her mum who has a disability. A 50-year-old wife looking after their husband who has cancer. Or, a 65-year-old son, looking after his mum who is 85 with Dementia.

How does caring affect your life?

Care giving can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be stressful and upsetting. Many care givers are working and have families of their own and it can at times be difficult to cope. Cares can go through a wide range of emotions, including loss, guilt and anger. As a care giver it is vital to look after yourself, your health and wellbeing.

Health and Wellbeing

you may feel physically exhausted as you may be caring for someone during the night as well as during the day

you may be lifting someone who is heavier than you

you may be carrying out more physical jobs then before; daily bed changing, washing and cleaning

you may be emotionally exhausted seeing some you love or care about in pain and distress

you may have difficulty sleeping at night due to worry

your relationships with others may be affected by the demands of a caring role

all this may lead to stress, depression and other mental health problem

What can you do to look after yourself?

Emotional Support

Take some time for yourself, walk the dog, go upstairs with a book, sit outside with a book, what ever it is take some time everyday for yourself even if it is only for a short while

Try to get out to meet with friends or family as often as you can

See your GP about your own health needs. If you are having trouble sleeping talk to your doctor

Take tome to reflect on how you are feeling. It can get difficult at times and you can feel lonely, or isolated. Take time to talk to a friend, your GP, or a professional. There are support groups out there who can point you in the right direction for other people who are going through similar experiences.

Practical Support

Friends and Family – it can be difficult to accept help but try to take the pressure off a little by accepting or asking for help

Support workers – many voluntary organisations have trained support workers who can provide practical advice, some even carry out home visits or support over the phone

Support groups – local support groups give you a chance to chat to others and can give you practical tips and advice. If you want to search for support in your area please go to

Social care and assessments – as a carer you are entitled to have your support needs assessed. You may be offered support services to help you in your caring role. For more information and advice please see

Financial Matters

You may have to communicate with the person you care for bank, building society, pension service, and utility providers. There are many things you can do about managing this easier. You may have Power of Attorney in place that gives you permission to look after someone else financial affairs. Banks can agree to a 3rd Party Mandate A third-party mandate is a document that tells your bank, building society or other account provider they can accept instructions about money from a specific named person. Banks have a right to refuse such requests.

Some interesting facts and statistics about carers

There are 7 million carers in the UK and by 2013, the number is set to increase by 3.4 million.

65% of older carers (60 -94 years) have long term health problems or disability themselves.

1in 3 older carers have cancelled treatment or an operation for themselves because of their caring responsibilities.

68.85 say that being a carer has had an adverse effect on their own mental health.

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