Are you helping to look after and support a loved one?

You might be supporting and helping to maintain a person’s independence. This may be your husband/wife, mum/dad, children, grandchildren or even a neighbour or friend. You might be helping to support their memory, supporting them emotionally, or helping with day to day tasks like washing, dressing, cooking and cleaning. Whatever form this takes it can begin to put a strain on your relationship as well as a strain on you both physically and emotionally.

The physical strains of supporting a loved one could be due to taking on more of the household jobs, as well as this, you might be more involved in washing and dressing your loved one. You might also be learning new skills such as dealing with the household finances and how to prepare a meal.

You might be having to adjust to a number of losses such as a loss of the person your loved one was, the loss of the roles they used to take in your life, the  loss of the future that the two of you had planned together, and the loss of your independence. This can understandably lead to feelings of stress, worry, low mood, guilt, and at times resentment to the person who you are supporting.

If you are feeling like this then it can often be difficult to ask for help as you may be thinking ‘I should be able to cope better’ or ‘it is my duty’. Often people find talking to someone about the way that they are feeling helps them to manage their feelings more easily. You may find it helpful to talk to a professional or you may prefer to talk to a close relative or friend.

There are services and organisations that may be able to offer support:

Hints and tips

Enjoy some 'me' time 

It can sometimes be difficult to find time to do things for you and often people feel guilty in doing this. However, it is important to replenish your own resources in order to be able to keep giving to your loved one. This could be as simple as going for a walk, reading a book, or enjoying a bath whatever it is that you enjoy doing.

Social support

It can sometimes be difficult to maintain your relationship with your friends when much of your time is spent supporting your loved one but your friends can be a good source of emotional support especially when you are finding things more difficult.

Talk to someone 

"A problem shared is a problem halved" - it can help to talk about some of your feelings either with a professional or, if you would prefer, a family member or friend.

Ask for help

Sometimes it can be difficult doing things on your own and often family and friends are happy to help such as doing your shopping or gardening to take off some of your stress.

The page was last updated on 28 June 2017 by Mark.Cole.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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