To celebrate Carers Week we are focussing on the role of LD carers and what that means to individual carers
For many it is seen as a privilege, as rewarding with many very proud moments witnessed for each step forward, each achievement. However, caring for someone with learning disabilities is often a 24/7 role, with little opportunity for the carer to have a break. This can lead to exhaustion, feelings of isolation, a deep neglect of the carers own health and well-being, no social life to speak of… I am not saying this is the case for everyone but it does appear to be so for very many.
Take Poppy, one of our occasional bloggers, for instance. She is a full time learning disability carer and this role has impacted hugely on her life. She is not free to make spontaneous decisions about going out anywhere as everything needs to be carefully planned and suitable sitters organised if the outing does not include the cared for. Her life revolves around LD caring, and I know (and she will not mind me saying this) that she often neglects her own health needs… sometimes just due to tiredness and that feeling of ‘Oh I just cannot be bothered’ and sometimes just because she is too busy caring for others that she has very little time to think of herself. This is not to say that she does not take great pleasure in her role also, as I know that she does so, as I am sure we all do but we cannot ignore the fact that it can impact negatively and when our role does lead to exhaustion and isolation it is also more likely to affect our own mental health.
It is important to try and maintain a balance between your caring role and taking some time out for yourself. I know this can be difficult, especially as respite breaks are becoming harder to access due to all the funding cuts but if we aim to ‘allow’ ourselves some timeout, even if it is only for say 20 minutes at a time to spend quietly recharging our batteries by doing something that relaxes and calms us and that we enjoy we will feel all the better for it. It is a bit like having a power-nap, a short sleep that leaves us feeling refreshed and ready to continue!