You may not consider yourself a carer but by simply looking after your dad, mum, husband or wife you are taking on a huge responsiblity. Becoming a carer can completely change a person’s life, leaving little time for anything else and impacting financially, emotionally, professionally and socially.
Few carers take the time to ensure they are coping and being looked after. The reality is, nearly half of carers say they suffer mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression, and one in eight say it causes physical health issues. The world of a carer can also become a very lonely one. But there is support available in the UK.
Clearly, carers need help too. The good news is, there is help available. Macmillan provides support for carers and has a variety of experts on hand to help.
They can put you in touch with counsellors, social workers and support groups to provide practical and emotional support.
Information on help balancing your work life with your caring role can also be provided, including making sure you know your employment rights.
For many carers, the extra costs incurred from caring can put a strain on both the practicalities of life, and create worry. Many don’t like to mention the financial element of caring, but you could be entitled to benefits or other financial assistance that could make a huge difference to both you and the person you care for. Macmillan can help you access this support.
Having to become familiar with the various treatments and forms of cancer can be bewildering to a carer in the early stages. Specially produced booklets can help you make sense of what is happening, enabling you to reassure and explain things should you need to.
Although there is help available, Macmillan is also pushing the government to go further to help carers. They are lobbying MPs to fill gaps in legislation around access to support and information in the new Care Bill (see resources for further information and if you wish to support their campaign) which is currently being debated by parliament.
If you’re a carer, make sure you get the help you need to carry on providing essential support for a cancer patient. If you’re not being looked after, your ability to help others will be seriously affected.
If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the support on offer, visit macmillan.org.uk/carers or call 0808 808 00 00.
No one should have to cope alone when caring for someone with cancer – luckily there are people around to make sure you don’t have to.
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