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Looking after yourself: five top tips for carers

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Helen Walker

Chief Executive, Carers UK

The holiday season is fast approaching, and for unpaid carers looking after a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill, this busy time of year requires extensive forward planning and expert coordination adapting daily routines around festivities.


Caring can be a full-time job, which is why it’s important that carers look after their own wellbeing. Research published by the Carers Week charities shows that almost 75% of people in the UK caring (unpaid) for a loved one have suffered mental ill health, such as stress or depression, as a result of caring. Well over half of carers have also seen their physical health worsen.

But there are a number of solutions that can help carers improve their wellbeing:

Find out about carers’ rights and support

Looking after a loved one can be difficult; trying to navigate the health and social care systems; knowing what financial support is available. For a free guide outlining all the rights and support available to carers in one place, Carers UK’s, ‘Looking after someone’ guide is a great place to start.

Go to carersuk.org/help-and-advice/get-resources/looking-after-someone for a free copy.

Check out our Thinking Ahead tool: a free online resource that aims to prepare people for the potential costs involved in caring for a loved one to help them plan ahead.

Technology can increase independence and peace of mind

Different types of equipment and technology can help make a home safer, life easier and provide independence for the person being looked after. Everyday technology like mobile apps can take the stress out of tasks like shopping and coordinating care.

Find out what’s out there and how to get it at carersuk.org/help-and-advice/technology-and-equipment

Support and understanding from other carers

Whether it’s round-the-clock or a few hours a week, caring can feel overwhelming at times, so it’s important to know that you’re not alone. The Carers UK forum is a supportive online community of current and former carers who understand the ups and downs of caring. Sharing an experience, a problem or just having a good old rant to a fellow carer can make a world of difference.

Go to carersuk.org/forum

Eat well, maintain a balanced diet

As a carer, eating a balanced diet is essential to keep your body strong and give you enough energy to provide the best care for the person you are caring for and yourself. By understanding how to achieve a balanced diet and fit it into your lifestyle, you can stay in good health.

See our tips at carersuk.org/help-and-advice/health/nutrition/eating-well

Take a break, meet friends or catch up on sleep

Caring for someone can take up a lot of personal time and energy, so taking a break is vital to recharge the batteries, meet up with friends or simply catch up on sleep. There are various options to help you find support with your caring duties, or, if you need extra help to be able to take a break together, whether that’s support from friends or family or support services. Search online for our Taking a Break factsheet.

Find out more at carersuk.org

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Home » Carers » Looking after yourself: five top tips for carers
Your Later Life 2020

Dealing with bereavement and grief as a carer

Helen Walker (pictured)

Chief Executive, Carers UK

Everyone feels and reacts differently to becoming bereaved. There is no right or wrong way to deal with how you feel about this. 


COVID-19 has meant that some carers are having to face the loss of the person they looked after, maybe under very difficult circumstances.

Grieving will feel very different  right now, as carers are not able to reach out to others in the ways they usually would, and support services are not all operating as normal.

In the immediate aftermath of losing someone, there are usually many practical matters to deal with, from registering the death to organising the funeral. It can feel like your emotions are on hold.

It may help to break these tasks down, listing them in order of priority and ticking them off once completed.

Carers will experience a whole range of emotions, especially if this signifies the end of their caring role.

Consider a memorial service

The way funerals are taking place at the moment may not be the way you would want to say goodbye to someone.

You might want to start planning a memorial service or gathering for those unable to attend. That way, you know that everyone who wants to say goodbye can, and you have a chance to celebrate their life as you normally would have done.

Understandably, you might feel too upset to face these tasks. If you feel able to, tell the people around you what you need from them and how they can help.

There are professionals who can support you.

Expect unexpected emotions

Everyone feels and reacts differently to becoming bereaved. There is no right or wrong way to deal with how you feel about this. 

As well as the emotional pain of losing someone they love, carers will experience a whole range of emotions, especially if this signifies the end of their caring role.

Your feelings could range from relief at having more time to yourself, to guilt at feeling that way, to a desire to make some big changes, to feeling exhausted, alone and unable to do much at all.

Feeling free to acknowledge these complex emotions can be an important part of coming to terms with your loss.

Sometimes it can help to share your feelings with a close family member or friend or you could turn to a bereavement charity such as Cruse Bereavement Care or Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Support.

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