Is there life after caring?

Yes.  But it takes time.

No longer being a carer can leave a huge gap in life which can be difficult to fill. Life can be very different to what it was before and it may take time to adjust. The circumstances of the change may also affect how quickly you adapt. 

Change is unsettling and endings can be painful, leading to a range of conflicting and confusing emotions - the important thing is to accept that this is part of a normal process of adjustment. 

Rediscovering yourself

As a carer, it can be easy to lose your sense of self as caring becomes not only a role but an identity.  Carers often say that focussing on themselves feels strange at first because they are used to spending their time doing things for someone else and always thinking of their needs.  The feelings can be the same for parents seeing their children take their first steps into independence, for spouses who have cared for a loved one, or children who have been caring for a parent.

Where the change is due to bereavement – particularly if the loss was sudden – the process may be more complex and may last longer as you also have to overcome the shock, anger and sadness of losing a loved one.

Plan ahead – seek support now

Other carers will tell you that it’s important to give yourself permission to rest and space to think things through.  This is time to rediscover things you enjoy, whether it’s reading, watching TV, cooking, gardening or getting out and about with others.   

Instead of cramming everything into a couple of days take the time to think about new routines for sleeping, eating or reconnecting with family and friends as these are essential for good physical and mental wellbeing.

Where there are practical things to sort such a benefits, housing, removing adaptations to your home - you can speak to adult social care. Our Health Portal has a page dedicated to carers and links to groups and organisations that can offer you advice, information and resources, including the local organisation, Signal4Carers.

Reconnect

Carers experience feelings of social isolation and overtime, we can sometimes lose the skills and confidence to socialise.  Our community map lists meet ups and social groups for former carers.

Courses, classes and taster sessions can be a good distraction.  Volunteering not only provides a sense of purpose and usefulness, it can also be a good way to ease you (back) into work if this is your goal.

This is the last of three articles about the unpaid caring role.  Our first article gave information for people finding themselves in the caring role for the first time and the second focussed on supporting carers already in an unpaid caring role.