Your Changing Relationships
Caring can be extremely fulfilling, but it can also be demanding and take its toll on your relationships. Changes can occur suddenly or gradually over time, but your relationships, especially with loved ones, can seem very different to how they were before.
Read on for some tips and guidance and ways to seek support as you cope with these changes.
Dealing with erratic and challenging behaviour
If you’re caring for someone with any kind of complex condition, such as autism or dementia, you might find that their moods vary greatly and this might leave with you a sense of constant unease. It’s natural to find the unpredictability of someone’s behaviour an enormous stress and extremely hard to deal with.
In some circumstances, the person you are caring for may not be aware of their actions, or able to understand how this is upsetting you.
It may be helpful to talk to someone to get help on ways to cope. Share how you’re feeling with your GP or get in touch with our Wellbeing Practitioner.
See if other family members or friends can help to give you a break when you need it and consider contacting social services to see about the possibility of getting a carer’s assessment if you haven’t already so that you can get additional support.
Feeling you are being taken for granted
This is a very common feeling among carers. Caring can be especially tiring and difficult when you feel like your work is going unnoticed or is not appreciated, especially by those who are being supported.
It may help to talk about how you feel, unless the person(s) you look after has a condition that affects how they can express themselves or understand you.
It’s important that you acknowledge your own effort and congratulate and reward yourself about the things you have achieved. Set time aside for yourself regularly and make sure you do things that you enjoy. See our advice on Taking a Break. Also be kind to yourself even if you lose patience every now and again. Your frustrations are natural and it is perfectly fine to feel that way.
If you notice that negative feelings are building up inside, make sure you talk it out with either someone you know or a professional counsellor or volunteer. See Coping with Stress and Low Mood and Depression for some useful tips and information.
Feeling isolated – my friends don’t understand
It is really useful to find some peer support and joining one of our events or activities can help you find people who are going through a similar situation. Visit our What’s on page to find a group that suits you.
CarersUK runs some great online Share and Learn sessions where you can learn a new skill whilst at home.
I now feel like a parent rather than a partner
It can be very difficult to deal with the change in your relationship, whether this has happened suddenly or over a long period. It may be helpful to acknowledge your feelings with your partner in a way that won’t make them feel guilty. Perhaps there are ways you can change the dynamic by, for example, having a date night once a week and watching a film together.
Of course, sometimes relationships change so much that it is not possible to recapture what was there before, and coming to terms with the situation can be really difficult. It could be helpful to talk to someone.
There are many different sources of support that could help. In the first instance, you could speak to your GP and see if they can recommend any local services, such as social prescribing, talking therapies or counselling groups. Relate also has a lot of useful guidance and information about local groups and offer specialist counselling services.
It may be helpful to connect with other carers who may be experiencing the same thing as you. Joining one of our groups can often lead to new friendships and the chance to share your experience with others – maybe even helping them too.
My parents need more help – but they don’t agree
Slowly we can start taking on a more caring role as our parents age. It can start with small jobs – helping with shopping, lifting things and then slowly the tasks become bigger and more regular. These changing roles can be challenging for both you and your parents.
If you have siblings it is a good idea to discuss the future and how you see it working. Avoid putting off these conversations as you don’t want to be dealing with these big decisions when you are under pressure. It is also a good idea to address the wishes of your parents before they lose mental or physical capacity.
Putting in place a power of attorney could help with future health and financial decisions – unfortunately, too many people only consider this option when it is too late as it is important that someone has the mental capacity (the ability to make their own decisions) to arrange one. Read more about a Power of Attorney here.
When you can see someone’s needs increasing, especially a loved one’s, it can be really hard to know how to address the subject of preparing for the future.
It could be helpful to look at things from their point of view. No one likes the idea of giving up their independence and the fear of becoming a burden can create a mindset of denial.
It’s important to open up conversations around plans for the future. There are lots of ways to keep living independently for longer, such as equipping the home or arranging alternative living arrangements.