Looking after your own needs
As a carer of someone with dementia you may find yourself caring for a number of years. Whatever age you are it is important you look after your own health. As a carer you will have your own individual commitments and responsibilities. These can depend on many things for example your age, family, work or financial circumstances. Because caring for someone with dementia can be a long-term commitment it is very likely your circumstance could change throughout the caring experience.
If you find your circumstances change, and you need more support to care, get in touch with your local social services or carers service. It is always better to ask for help and advice earlier than you need it to make sure you are prepared.
Having a carer’s assessment or review of an existing assessment can give you the opportunity to discuss any changes in circumstances and the impact this is having on your caring role. Use the opportunity to enquire about options of further support. Contact your local social services or carers service for more information and to request a carer’s assessment.
If you are worried about what will happen to the person I care for if something happens to you, then making a plan and exploring options for replacement care can give you peace of mind. Some local authorities and carers services provide templates and assistance in completing an emergency plan, which will then be held on a central system in case it is needed. Carers are usually then given an emergency card to carry with them.
Maintaining your own health
It is important that you do not neglect your own health or miss routine screenings and other appointments. As a carer you are entitled to a:
If you need an operation, therapy or other treatment to maintain your health do not put it off. Ask for support from social services or your local carers service to help make arrangements for replacement care.
Many local carers and dementia services run support groups and training programmes which cover looking after yourself. If you are concerned about your mental health and wellbeing go and see your GP early on. Also see how to improve and maintain your mental wellbeing on Mind.
Work life balance
If you are working, it is a good idea to let your manager or human resources department know that you are a carer. You can discuss ways of working around your caring responsibilities. Employers are always keen to keep valued staff and adjustments to your working pattern are a better option than the expensive and time consuming process of recruitment.
You can also enquire about any relevant policies the organisation has.
As a carer you have legal rights:
Many carers find themselves giving up work before other options are fully explored.
Carers who work part time or are on a low income may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance, and other benefits depending upon their financial, family and housing situation. Local advice centres such as Citizens Advice Bureau or Age UK will be able to do a benefits check, to ensure your family and the person you care for are receiving everything you are entitled to.
Next in the Carers Road Map guide: When the person with dementia becomes incontinent