Friends and Family

Caring can put a strain on your relationships. With so much to do, it can seem impossible to find the time or energy to nourish your relationships. But friends and family can provide practical support and can be a source of great comfort. Where possible, make time to reconnect.

Maybe you feel that your duty as a Carer is to put your social life, along with your own wants and needs, last. Maybe you feel that spending your time socialising is unproductive or selfish. Weeks without contact can quickly turn into months and years.

But maintaining your own social life is important. When you have people around you who you trust, it can make the difference between feeling supported, and feeling overwhelmed.

“A 2010 Carers Week survey revealed that many carers can no longer rely on relatives for support, as these relationships have suffered as a result of caring. Three out of four people surveyed said they had lost touch with family and friends.” – Carers UK

When you feel supported by the people around you, it means you can continue to do the best job possible for the ones you look after, so that you can both continue to enjoy life to its full.

Caring as a Family

Caring as a family can be a great way of creating a united circle of support around the one who needs it, with everyone taking a share of responsibility. However, it can also create rifts, as stress levels increase, tempers grow short, and emotions become difficult to deal with.

If you haven’t already, take a moment to consider how caring effects the whole family, as well as the main primary Carers.

As a couple who are caring together – You might find that you no longer have as much time as you expected to devote to your own relationship.

As a sibling of the one who needs caring for – Maybe it feels like your family life always revolves around your brother or sister, and that your parents never have the time for you.

As a parent who is beginning to be in need of some support yourself – You might be reluctant to ask for help, especially from your own children.

As a family – Maybe you feel that other people aren’t doing a fair share of the work and it always falls to you to pick up where they left off. Or maybe you want to help, but feel like you aren’t welcome because “you don’t do it right”.

When caring begins, roles within the family can change dramatically, and it can often be a confusing and difficult time for all who are involved.

Caring for Your Partner

Having to care for your partner can feel like a double blow. Not only do you have the added responsibilities of caring for someone, but you also have to do it without your other half for support. This can be an extremely difficult time for both of you to adapt to. Every couple copes with it differently, but many do say that in hindsight the caring role only brings them closer together. Sometimes, it can help to see that other people have been where you are now, and managed to get through it.

You can read what other Carers say about how their relationships have changed, and pick up some useful ideas about how best to maintain your own on the Carers UK website.

Support Groups & Activities for Carers

You may find that friends and family who have not experienced being in a caring role themselves cannot always understand the demands and stresses of caring. If this is the case, it might help to reach out and connect with other Carers in your position.

If you’re picturing a sombre meeting room full of miserable faces, think again! Carers support groups come in a wide range of styles and activities, from coffee and cake meet ups to outdoor adventures and free yoga classes! If this piques your interest, speak to your local Carers centre.


With thanks to Midland Mencap for their permission to use the main image on this page