"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"
(Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790)
Carers do not usually take on the caregiving role by choice and are often left coping alone with a situation they did not invite in. Full-time carers can rarely go "off duty" and the true care burden of those who are sole advocate for a loved-one goes mostly unseen. Deferring one's own needs long-term to those of another can be stressful and not feeling in charge of one's own destiny is a well-documented cause of depression and ill-health.
Some of the 'invisible' aspects of caring
Carers' needs tend to be assessed in mainly practical terms according to ever-narrowing parameters of existing services. Many carers become depressed by a situation they didn't invite in or angry with the way they are treated by 'the system'. Although it is now recognised that long-term stress impacts adversely on our wellbeing, carers are more likely to be prescribed medication for stress-related conditions than offered effective sources of emotional support.
Whilst mood-altering drugs may alleviate symptoms they do not address their cause. A review published by Hull University in 2006 showed that the number of prescriptions for anti-depressants hit a record high of more than thirty-one million in England. Over half of these were for mood-altering drugs.
Crucial support services such as regular respite breaks are becoming increasingly scarce and ever more expensive. Whilst a respite break can head off a crisis it often means loved ones have to be separated which some do not want.
Safeguarding the emotional and psychological wellbeing of carers helps to prevent crisis and the premature or unwanted institutionalisation of their loved ones. By caring appropriately for carers Advocare can help to prevent them from becoming ill themselves through what we term 'the unpaid carer's syndrome', a form of emotional and physical burnout. Our Assert programme is specially tailored for reducing stress and promoting a positive outlook.
We can also refer carers and former carers to a free counselling service with an experienced counsellor who understands carers' issues including the need for support during impending bereavement. Some see it as an oasis of quality time when they can focus on themselves. Others see it as respite without having to be separated from a loved one.
For more details please contact Cathey on (01202) 737592.