1 - Maintain your interests and social life
It is important to remember that maintaining friendships is a vital part of a healthy and happy life. Friends can be an important source of emotional support as well as providing an opportunity to get away from the demands of home life for a while, all of which can help you to look after yourself and your relative more effectively.
It is also important to maintain your hobbies and interests, both those that involve social interaction and also solitary pursuits such as music, reading, watching films, etc. This may seem obvious, but it is easy to let the demands of caring dominate your life. Making time for activities that make you happy can make all the difference to your quality of life.
2 - Stay healthy
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can counter the negative effects of stress and improve your sense of well-being and quality of life. Try to take time to do whatever forms of exercise you enjoy and make the effort to eat a healthy, balanced diet. It is also important to remember to see your GP with any health concerns. You can find information on exercise and healthy eating on the NHS website.
3 - Take a break from caring
It is important to take a break from caring on occasion in order to rest and have some time to yourself. Provision and funding for respite care should be made in your relative’s care package and the services provided by your own carer’s assessment.
There are a number of options available for respite care. More information on this is available in the Headway booklet Caring for someone with a brain injury.
4 – Consider attending a carer support group
Many of Headway’s groups and branches provide support group meetings and one-to-one support for carers. These services are particularly helpful as they provide peer support from others in similar situations. To locate your nearest Headway group or branch, visit the section Supporting you.
Specialist carer’s organisations offer support groups and services in many areas of the UK. There is also a UK-wide network of Carer’s Centres offering information, advice, practical help, advocacy, training, education and all kinds of other services.
5 - Understand and manage your emotional reactions
It is important to remember that there is no right and wrong way to feel, and all reactions can be considered completely natural. Don’t expect everything to make sense initially. Coming to terms with a relative’s injury is a complex and ever-changing process.
6 - Financial support
Familiarise yourself with benefits or other forms of financial support that you might be entitled to, such as Carer’s Allowance or National Insurance Contribution Credits. Many of these are available if the person you care for is receiving Personal Independence Payment (PIP). You could also look at schemes for help with vehicle and transport, and leisure.
7 - Carer’s assessments
A carer’s assessment looks at your needs as a carer and whether you are entitled to services to make caring easier for you. You can contact your local authority to request an assessment.
Visit our Caring section for further information about caring and the support that is available.
This information is adapted from Headway's booklet Caring for someone with a brain injury (PDF).