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Your Later Life Q4 2020

Staying connected when you’re caring this Christmas

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Helen Walker

Chief Executive, Carers UK

If you’ve cared for a loved one this year – a relative or friend who is older, disabled or seriously ill – there’s no doubt it has been an incredibly challenging time keeping that person safe and well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The majority of carers (81%) have been taking on more care for loved ones, while getting limited support from family members and friends due to the limitations on household mixing. Face-to-face support services in the community – such as day centres and support groups – have reduced their services significantly or closed completely. This is putting huge pressure on carers, and meaning many more are caring round the clock.

Tackling isolation 

Managing a significant caring role for a loved one and going months on end without support is also an incredibly isolating experience for carers. In a recent survey of carers, half (48%) told Carers UK that they felt lonely and cut off from people, and only 30% reported having a network of people around them to support them. 

Carers who were struggling financially were more likely to be facing loneliness with 62% saying they feel lonely and cut off from people.

Caring doesn’t stop for Christmas 

We know caring can be 24/7, 365 days a year, and it doesn’t stop for Christmas. 

This year’s festive period is going to be even more challenging than normal, with some restrictions from the last nine months sure to be still in place.  

It is unlikely that families will be able to mingle as they normally would and so caring for someone could feel more isolating than usual, especially if you’re taking extra precautions over the winter to keep the person you care for safe from COVID-19. 

After what has been a relentless year, the holiday season doesn’t look much easier so it’s crucial as a carer you make time for yourself. 

We know caring can be 24/7, 365 days a year, and it doesn’t stop for Christmas. 

Keeping in touch 

Staying connected and keeping in touch with others this winter is vital to looking after your wellbeing. Reach out to neighbours and people you trust locally to support you with what you need. 

If you’re not able to see all the family members you would like to over the Christmas break, why not schedule a video call or phone call so you can enjoy a mince pie together and catch up. 

When you’re feeling alone, talking about it with someone who understands can be a huge release. Call a friend or visit Carers UK’s online forum at carersuk.org/forum. Our ‘Care for a Cuppa’ video chats are virtual spaces where you can connect with other carers facing similar challenges at the moment. 

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