Being a parent carer is really not all doom and gloom. It’s hard to be yourself because most times you put yourself last on the scale. However, as carers, we need to take care of ourselves. Our health, our backs and even our emotions. Constantly ignoring that symptom you have because of the attention your child or loved one needs will do no good in the long run.
It’s a good idea to always bear in mind that as soon as you become unwell (especially after ignoring niggling symptoms) everything breaks down. You begin to worry about who will stand in for you when you are ill. We all know that worry. It is made ten times worse if you are anything like me. I get caught up in the thought that no one can look after my child as well as I would. This may be true but when you are unwell, it is what it is- you will have to let others step in whether you like it or not. They may not necessarily do as good a job as you can be but they will definitely give it their best shot.
- Adopt proper posture when performing daily tasks : For some of us, our caring role means we are either constantly lifting or bending. It is a good idea to adopt proper lifting and bending techniques on time. You really do not want any wrong postures that will leave you in pain over time. It’s quite easy to take bad postures for granted but bear in mind that caring for your loved one may be long term.
- Make sure your vaccinations are up to date : In the colder months the flu vaccination is a good idea especially if you normally have one. Do not forget to check with your doctor before having the flu jab in order to ensure that it will be right for you. If your child or loved one is very prone to the flu, they may be offered the flu vaccination anyway. The vaccination you get will just stop you having the flu and reduce the risk of exposing your child or loved one.
- Get some fresh air : Emotionally, carers are at risk of becoming lonely and depressed. It will be a good idea to try to get some exercise as often as possible. The fresh air never does anyone any harm. For those who are unable to enjoy the outdoors for various reasons, even sitting out in the garden or by the window may make a difference. Just watching as much nature as you can through the window, strolling in the meadow etc can uplift a carer’s mood.
- Stay connected with help and support : In addition, there are support groups for carers in England. The carers UK, or a local branch of carers can provide listening support and sometimes advice on days when you struggle. For those abroad, similar support may be available. Where unavailable, all hope is not lost, friends and family are always invaluable. Providing support to those who struggle. It always helps when we can talk about our feelings.
Remember, that’s child or loved one will want you to look after yourself better if they knew how much you were struggling. It will ultimately impact them adversely in the end. It is a good idea to seek help when you struggle. It does not make you weak, it only means you are strong and working hard at keeping strong.
There are lots of things to support parents in the community. Parents who have kids with disability especially can have access to some benefits for them and their kids. When my child was diagnosed, it took me a long time to come to terms with the full implications of the illness for him and for us all as a family. The last thing on my mind was seeking any help. There were too many things to get used to. However, a lot of the stress would have been halved if we sought had sought help sooner.
In the UK, it is worth speaking with the citizens advice bureau on time to advise on what is help would be suitable. This is because different families have different needs. However, I found that the government website also provides information. Disability living allowance is made available to children with disabilities. The level of care required for the child is used to determine how much would be awarded. There are two categories: mobility and care elements. Some children can be awarded both or either of the elements in the disability allowance. At times children can still be awarded even without clear diagnosis. The main criteria used are the level of care or mobility needs for the child in relation to children his or her age.
The main carer for the child can be the parents, foster parents or any other person. If that person spends over 35 hours a week caring for the child, he or she can also claim a carers allowance. There are rules to be adhered to while claiming the carer’s allowance. It is taxable benefit meaning that it counts towards your personal allowance in every tax year. There are limits to additional earnings per week and it is worth checking before embarking on any extra employment. There is also a restriction on the number of hours the carer can be in education. Part-time education not exceeding certain hours a week are allowed.
Some families may struggle with caring for their child and it may genuinely impact on the families ability to work and earn enough money to meet their living costs. Families can apply for income support and child or working tax credits. There are different criteria used to award these and it is worth calling them for advice early enough. When the income is low or the family claims income support, it is also worth checking if you are eligible for housing benefits.The Turn2us website contains an online calculator that parents can use to independently check their eligibility and possible amounts that could be awarded.
All hope is never lost and in my personal experience. The key to survival as a parent carer mostly lies in the ability to speak out early enough. There are some of the benefits that cannot be backdated so it is never a bad idea to make these enquiries at the earliest opportunity. Putting in an application early, is also never a bad idea. There is really nothing to lose. The worst case scenario will be that the application is declined. If this is the case, the decline reasons will be outlined.
If you are under immigration control, check if you have a restriction on access to public fund. Unfortunately, you will be unable to access most of these funds. It will be worth speaking with a social worker locally or in your child’s hospital to see what help is available.
Always remember that it is fraudulent not to declare change of circumstance. So try not to complicate issues by being on the wrong side.
Thank you for reading.
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