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Taking care of yourself

Staying healthy is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for carers.

Many carers have little time to themselves for cooking nutritious food or exercising, and many feel emotionally drained or stressed and sleep badly. This makes carers prone to poor health, which can be exacerbated by a lack of time to be able to see a doctor or pharmacist.

The GP Patient Survey in 2013 highlighted the impact of caring on carer health – whilst 51% of non-carers had a long-standing health condition this rose to 60% of all carers and 70% of carers caring for 50 or more hours a week. The survey also highlighted higher levels of arthritis, high blood pressure, long-term back problems, diabetes, mobility problems, anxiety and depression amongst carers.

Common health issues

Bad backs are a common problem. Staying active is important in preventing back pain, but you can follow some simple tips to help prevent back problems developing.

When you’re a carer, stress and anxiety is often part of your life. Extra responsibilities, worrying about the person you care for and having to be around to help them at any time can all increase your levels of stress.

The first step in dealing with stress is to recognise that it’s happening. You may have so little time to yourself that you don’t realise at first. The sooner you deal with the problem, the better. Just talking about how you feel can help you find a way to deal with it.

Because of the stressful nature of their lives, carers can be more prone to depression. The symptoms vary in different people. Knowing what the symptoms of depression are, who you should talk to and what treatments are available can help you recognise the early signs of depression.

Carers UK has a lot of useful information about taking care of yourself on their website, here.