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What Support Is Available for Dementia Carers?

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Caring for a person living with dementia has highs and lows. While being able to provide that care can be hugely rewarding and positive, as dementia has no known cure, managing its progression can also be challenging at times. There are certainly many resources and types of support out there that provide help to those living with dementia, but what about you?

Carers who receive less support and care themselves are more likely to experience feelings of stress and depression. Caring can then become overwhelming, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The needs of the person you are caring for often outweigh your own, preventing you from looking after yourself properly, but you will only be in your best position to support a person living with dementia if you can keep yourself healthy inside and out.

To help you navigate your own self-care as a carer, we’ve put together some resources and ideas that we hope will help you access some of the support available for dementia carers in the UK.

Practical Support

  1. Respite Care: Everyone needs a break now and then. Respite care gives you a chance to recharge while ensuring your loved one is in capable hands. Options range from in-home support to day centres and residential care facilities.
  2. Home Care Services: Home care services can be a real lifesaver, offering professional help with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and meal prep. This can lighten your load and make your days a little easier.
  3. Assistive Technology: There are so many amazing devices available these days to help make things easier for you to provide the best care and support. From medication dispensers to GPS trackers and fall alarms, these tools can bring peace of mind.
  4. Home Adaptations: As a carer, you will likely want to ensure that the person you are caring for is able to maintain their independence as long as possible. Certain adaptations to your home can help make this happen, from supporting their mobility to helping them perform other tasks without your help.

Emotional Support

  1. Support Groups: Joining a support group is like finding a little community where everyone gets it. At a support group you’ll be able to share stories, advice, and coping strategies with others who understand your journey. While these are great to attend face-to-face, you will also find there are plenty of online discussion forums that can also allow you to share your journey and find practical advice.
  2. Counselling Services: It’s completely normal to experience stress and emotional ups and downs as a carer. Counselling services and talk therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can let you talk about your feelings and experiences in a safe and non-judgemental environment and help provide you with strategies to navigate these feelings and feel more grounded.
  3. Helplines: Sometimes just talking to someone can make a world of difference. Helplines like the Alzheimer's Society Helpline (0300 222 11 22) offer free, confidential advice and support from trained advisors.

Financial Support

  1. Benefits and Allowances: There’s financial help available to support your caregiving role, including Carer’s Allowance, Attendance Allowance, and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). These benefits can ease some of the financial pressures you may face. Organisations like Age UK and Citizens Advice can provide you with free advice on what you are eligible for and help to claim it correctly.
  2. Local Authority Support: Your local council can assess your needs and may offer direct payments to help cover the costs of care services.
  3. Charitable Grants: Some charities provide grants to dementia carers for specific needs such as home modifications or respite care. These are worth researching, especially from any local charities and organisations who will be looking to support people living with dementia and their carers in the local community.

Training & Education

  1. Dementia Training Courses: Numerous organisations offer training courses to help you understand dementia better and learn effective caregiving strategies. These can be in-person or online, fitting into your schedule.
  2. Online Resources: Websites like the Alzheimer's Society and Dementia UK are filled with information on dementia care, including guides, fact sheets, and videos on a range of different subjects to help you in daily life.
  3. Carer Workshops: Workshops for carers provide practical advice on topics such as communication, managing challenging behaviours, and self-care.

Your Own Health & Wellbeing

As a carer for a person living with dementia, it's crucial that you prioritise your own well-being. Here are a few tips to help you stay balanced:

  • Take breaks: Regular breaks are essential for your physical and mental health.
  • Stay connected: Lean on your support network of friends and family to avoid feeling isolated.
  • Seek professional help: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek counselling or therapy.
  • Exercise: Moving your body can lift your spirits and relieve stress.
  • Eat well: A balanced diet can help you feel more energised and healthier.
  • Get enough sleep: Quality rest helps you stay sharp and refreshed.

While this covers practical resources, emotional support, financial aid, and training opportunities, it is by no means an exhaustive list. There may be support available to you that is specific to your local area and we recommend you get in touch with your local NHS services, local authority or charities and voluntary organisations that operate in the area to gain a full assessment on what might be there.

Just remember, you are not alone. There’s lots of information and support available to carers in the UK, from practical resources and emotional support to financial aid and training opportunities. Take advantage of as much of these as possible to help you in your role as a carer and remember to take care of yourself. The work you are doing is amazing, and there are people out there who are ready and able to support you every step of the way.