Family Carer Role

Physical aspects of caring

It is common for people with a serious illness to remain at home for much of their care. As they become less able to carry out their usual tasks and care for themselves, you may find yourself in the role of carer. This means that your daily life has changed.

Benefits include:

  • Being in familiar surroundings
  • Able to follow usual routines
  • Autonomy in decision making
  • Less visits to hospital.
The down side to caring at home includes:
  • Having to deal with people coming to the house
  • Taking on unfamiliar tasks
  • Having to assume personal care for the sick person with intimate tasks, such as toileting
  • The unexpected, such as coping with someone who has fallen or who is in pain.
You may still have children at home, or you may still need to work. You may have other sick family members to care for. You may end up juggling many roles at once.

There are many practical things that you may need to learn. However, there are many services available to assist you. Nurses and social workers can help identify a wide range of support services.

Emotional aspects of caring

Caring for someone at the end of life is complicated and you may find it challenging. You may have seen someone die before but every death is different. It can be unpredictable, intense, and can be scary at times. The intensity of the caring situation can be hard to deal with. However, it can help you to develop a stronger bond with the person who is ill.

Providing hands-on care can change the relationship between you and the person you are caring for. You may find that you have less time for important conversations.

This can all be emotionally intense. It may have an impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing. This might include increased fatigue, anxiety and depression. These responsibilities can affect your ability to manage your role, your home and family. It is important to deal with the feelings and emotions that may arise.

If you are feeling grief or difficult emotions as a result of your role, talk to your GP who can refer you for help.

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Last updated 24 January 2017