Date Revised:

This is part of the Carers Road Map online guide for anyone who cares for someone with dementia and wants emotional support and/or a break from caring.

You may find that getting emotional support for yourself can help improve your health and wellbeing. Emotional support can be particularly helpful at certain stages as the dementia progresses in the person you care for. It is also important to recognise that your own circumstances as a carer may change, irrespective of the health of the person you care for.
 
Emotional support can come from a variety of sources:

  • Family and friends. 
  • Professional counselling. 
  • Carers groups and programme, services and forums on websites for carers. 

Getting support from a support groups

Some carers enjoy having a break and accessing emotional support together with the person they are caring for as it is a continuation of their everyday life. This can also suit carers who feel too anxious to leave the person with dementia in someone else’s care.
 
People with dementia can become disorientated and frightened in strange places and among people they don’t recognise. So having a break together or visiting a dementia cafe for emotional support can be the stepping stone to taking a break on your own. 
 
Carer support groups which you attend without the person you care for, and training sessions on issues around dementia can be invaluable. Here you will meet people in similar situations who have the same mix of feelings that you experience as a carer and will understand what you are going through. Contact your local carer service and dementia services for more information.

Getting support by taking a break 

Taking a carers break can bring up a mix of emotions including relief or guilt, and that is normal. But it is important to realise that in order to look after someone else you need to look after yourself and that it is in both your interests that you take a break. A break away from the emotional stress of caring is as important as a rest from the physical demands of the role. 
 
A break from caring can be accessed informally with help and support from family and friends or more formally through a carer’s and/or community care assessment for you and the person you care for. Having a carer’s assessment will help identify the type of break which will be helpful to you.

If you do not live with the person you care for and find yourself struggling to manage two homes, it is important that you let professionals and family and friends know that you need support and a break.
 

Tips

  • Talk to the person you care for and plan for the future. 
  • You can take a break and access emotional support together or separately.
  • Some holiday companies have specific breaks for people with disabilities, including dementia. See travelling and going on holiday on Alzheimer's Society.
  • Contact your local carer service for information on breaks and carers support groups.
  • Contact your local dementia service for information on support groups and social opportunities.

Support for carers to maintain lifestyle choices 

If you find yourself having to give up, or reduce your work hours, dropping out of community activities and giving up hobbies due to the increasing demands of your caring role, find out what help is available. If you are caring and in employment you have legal rights, including the right to request flexible working and time off for caring responsibilities. Carers and those they care for are also protected by law against discrimination
 
Having a carer’s assessment is a good way of expressing your wishes and considering what support is needed in order for you to balance caring, work, family and other community commitments. Working or volunteering is a valuable break from caring, and can help with your wellbeing.
 

Tips

  • Do not give up work or other commitments until you have explored your options. See support for carers at work.
  • Contact your manager or human resources department and discuss your options.
  • Request a carer’s assessment for you and a community care assessment for the person you care for, from your local council.

Next in the Carers Road Map guide: When the person with dementia loses their mobility

Next review due: June 2017