how to deal with the emotional challenges of caring for someone

Caring for another person has its ups and downs. It’s an emotional time that can be draining without the right support. Here, we explore how you can get the emotional support you need as a carer.

Carers provide an important, and often underappreciated, service to the people they care for. This can be a rewarding endeavour, helping people to identify their strengths and skills. However, it can also be emotionally and physically draining, with 71% of carers having poor physical or mental health. 

It’s important carers deal with the emotional challenges of caring for someone, because pent-up emotions can lead to more challenges further down the line, such as resentment, anxiety, or depression.

feeling isolated 

Caring for someone can sometimes feel isolating, especially if the people around you don’t understand. Alternatively, you may not feel comfortable sharing the fact that you’re a carer, or even recognise that you are one. 

It’s important to communicate with your network when you can. Lack of socialisation can lead to depression, which will only further your feelings of isolation. If someone you speak to doesn’t understand, you could link them to articles about the condition the person you’re caring for has, or the stresses involved in being a carer. 

finding time for yourself 

When looking after someone else, it’s easy to neglect looking after yourself.  Caring often leads to less time to focus on your own needs, but it’s important to still prioritise your health.  

You can’t look after someone to the best of your ability if you’re not well yourself, so be sure to exercise, eat healthily, and take time to relax when you can.  

Nobody is perfect, but even a little exercise and healthy eating can make a big difference to your mental and physical wellbeing. 

guilt and resentment 

We often start to care for someone out of love. However, over time, the sacrifices involved with being a carer can take their toll.  Maybe you feel like you’ve given up parts of your own life, like paid work, hobbies, or socialising. This can affect your relationships with others, and with the person you care for.  

Admitting you feel guilty can lead to more feelings of guilt, especially if you end up doing some things out of duty. This then leads to projecting negative emotions like anger on to the people you care about, causing more rifts and affecting more relationships. 

It can be hard when you have little control over a situation. But, if guilt isn’t dealt with, it can turn into resentment. Especially if the person you care for doesn’t fully realise how much you do for them, or how much you’ve had to stop doing as a result. 

Untreated guilt and resentment often causes low self-esteem, because you spend so much time focusing on another person, you lose confidence in your own abilities. Negative coping techniques like drinking, eating more or less, or self-harm are the consequence of this. Which is why it’s important to get the help you need before your struggles become overwhelming. 

Don’t feel guilty for needing a break – you’re not a superhero and can’t do everything. No one can. If you feel you need a break, look into respite care options. This can give you a few days’ to relax, while knowing the person you care for is in safe hands. 

Even if you’ve seen other carers be able to do more, or cope better, remember that you never know the full story. Everyone copes differently and has different limits. You’re not a bad carer because you believe you’re able to do less than someone else.  

prioritising your wellbeing 

Asking for help isn’t a sign of failure or incompetence. It’s a sign you want the best possible life for the person you care for.  

You could talk to your friends or family and see if they can do anything to help with the stresses of caring.  

If you’re really struggling, you could talk to your GP about getting counselling or find out what local support groups are available.  

Talking about how you feel in an understanding can go a long way to relieving yourself of negative feelings. 

how caba can help 

Our Support Officers can provide a listening, non-judgemental ear for anyone who wishes to talk about care. We offer practical advice and information on all aspects of caring, from money and benefits, choosing residential care or care at home, to your rights at work as a carer. No enquiry is too small or unimportant to us. 

We may be able to arrange for an experienced Occupational Therapist to visit the person you care for. They’ll be able to discuss their needs and help you explore the options available. We may also be able to fund these recommendations. Options available may include mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, grab rails, or wet rooms to make their day-to-day life easier and safer. 

To ensure you’re maximising your income, we can help you identify – and apply for – the benefits you’re entitled to. 

We can also provide emotional support through professional counselling, including one-to-one support, couples counselling, or family counselling. We have a partnership with Relate, the relationship people, to ensure you can access the support most relevant to your situation. 

All of our support is free and strictly confidential. Find out how you can talk to one of our team. 

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)1, ACA students2, ICAEW staff members3, and the family and carers of members and students4

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is or was dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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