With back pain awareness week still fresh on our minds, now is an appropriate time to address some of the unsung heroes out there: the carers.
The UK is home to 7 million unpaid carers. These are the people who provide care and support to ailing or disabled family members, friends or neighbours on an ongoing basis – they represent an unpaid and often invisible workforce of our nation.
If you are a carer, you may put yourself second when it comes to care. As someone in a similar position, I am often guilty of this. However…
… it is important to realise that if you do not look after yourself, your physical and consequently mental health can suffer. Over 70% the UK’s unpaid carers now suffer from back pain, and are at an even greater risk of developing chronic pain, which is highly disabling in a third of cases and life-long for the majority. Having good physical health will help in your caring role and can make a big difference in the quality of support you can offer to your loved one.
Us carers are often exposed to higher than usual levels of physical and emotional stress which can also put our health at risk. Many of us help the person we care for with physical tasks, such as getting in and out of the bed, bath or chairs. In addition to this, the role of carer, especially when caring for a spouse or close family member, can create unique emotional stresses.
Given the facts listed above, it’s crucial that carers care for themselves as well as the person depending upon them. So if you are a carer, try to action my top tips below…
1 Take time for yourself – if you are happy and well you are better able to provide help and support to others.
2 Have your own interests and make time for them – keeping fit, hobbies, seeing friends, etc.
3 Eat a balanced diet which is good for your all-round health, fitness and wellbeing.
4 Take care of your physical health – get any aches and pains checked out by an osteopath.
5 Take a break from caring – whether for a few hours or longer, try and fit in a break where you can.
6 Loneliness – caring for someone is a huge responsibility and can take up a lot of time. Sometimes it may make you feel lonely and cut off. Try to socialise and take time to visit friends and family. A long chat on the phone can do wonders.
It is vital to realise that it is just as important for you look after yourself as the person for whom you are caring. It is important to value yourself, and to understand that keeping yourself healthy will ultimately benefit your loved one and will enable you to have the energy and strength to have the best possible relationship.
If you are a carer and struggling with lingering back or neck pain then why not come in and have a consultation with one of our osteopaths to help you stay healthy so you can continue caring. Give us a call on 01722 512043 today, and we’ll get you booked in.