Carers Wellbeing

Carers Wellbeing

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Carers and Sleep

Being a carer for somebody can bring with it many challenges as well as rewards and a carer’s quality of sleep can suffer. Factors such as stress, interrupted nights, or money worries can all have a negative effect on sleep patterns and make life more challenging.

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for us all and it may be useful to understand why.

While we sleep our bodies carry out many important functions that are needed for optimal health and wellbeing. These functions include the processing of information and memories that we have acquired throughout the day and when we sleep our brains re-organise this information and transfer it to different parts of the brain for future use. Our bodies also use sleep to restore, repair and grow.

Poor sleep on a regular basis can put you at risk of more serious medical conditions and can affect your concentration and decision-making, making your role as carer harder. Lack of sleep can also make you feel low in mood and increases the risk of having accidents in the home, at work or on the road.

The following websites have further information and tips on achieving a good night’s sleep

Coping with Conflict

There will be times when things get too much. Saying “no” to someone we care for is one of the most difficult situations anyone can face, and for Carers it can be even more difficult, but it may be very necessary.

At times it may be best to avoid confrontation, even when you know you are in the right.

What can help, if possible go out of the room or into the garden for a few minutes, giving you and the person you care for space to calm down and think things through.

With some conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, the person you care for may, become agitated and argumentative. When you know what could be best for them but you are being accused of being difficult yourself you may start to question your own sanity. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional advice. It often helps to have someone reassure you that it is not you but the condition which is the problem. We all know that conflict can arise particularly between those under a number of stresses.

Often there are disagreements about how things should be done, or divided loyalties. Painful situations are sometimes allowed to go on for far too long. It can take a lot of courage to face one another and get things out into the open.

Asking for Help

The surest route to an Emergency Situation is through not looking after your own needs. You must be honest about the limits of your own ability to care.

Recognise your strengths, but also be aware of areas in which you need support or advice. This is not a sign of weakness or failure, but is a necessary part of caring as well. It is all too easy to put someone else’s needs so far in advance of your own that you will forget the simple basics such as eating well. A Carer who is tired, undernourished, bored, frustrated, or even ill and not paying attention to this may one day wake up and find that they can no longer cope. It is very difficult, and can be almost impossible, if the person you are looking after demands only your care and attention but you have to try to be strong enough to say no.

Five Senses Exercise

This exercise is called “five senses”, and provides guidelines on practicing mindfulness quickly in nearly any situation. All that is needed is to notice something you are experiencing with each of the five senses.

  • Notice five things that you can see.

Look around you and bring your attention to five things that you can see. Pick something that you don’t normally notice, like a shadow or a small crack in the concrete.

  • Notice four things that you can feel.

Bring awareness to four things that you are currently feeling, like the texture of your pants, the feeling of the breeze on your skin, or the smooth surface of a table you are resting your hands on.

  • Notice three things you can hear.

Take a moment to listen, and note three things that you hear in the background. This can be the chirp of a bird, the hum of the refrigerator, or the faint sounds of traffic from a nearby road.

  • Notice two things you can smell.

Bring your awareness to smells that you usually filter out, whether they’re pleasant or unpleasant. Perhaps the breeze is carrying a whiff of pine trees if you’re outside, or the smell of a fast food restaurant across the street.

  • Notice one thing you can taste.

Focus on one thing that you can taste right now, in this moment. You can take a sip of a drink, chew a piece of gum, eat something, or just notice the current taste in your mouth or open your mouth to search the air for a taste.

Lasting Power of Attorney

If someone has difficulties that mean they cannot make decisions anymore, they will need help managing their finances. Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where someone (while they still have mental capacity) nominates a trusted friend or relative to look after their affairs if they lost capacity.

Your representative should only ever make a choice for you if you’re unable to make that specific decision at the time it needs to be made. For example, if you fall into a coma, your representative would start looking after your affairs. Yet if you wake from the coma, you should be able make to your own decisions again.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint people (known as ‘attorneys’) to make decisions on your behalf.

There are 2 types of Lasting Power of Attorney:

• health and welfare
• property and financial affairs

You can choose to make one type or both. You must be 18 or over and have mental capacity (the ability to make your own decisions) when you make your lasting power of attorney.

What is mental capacity?
Every day we make decisions about our lives. The ability to make these decisions is called mental capacity. People may not be able to make decisions some or all of the time, perhaps because they have a learning disability, dementia, mental health problem, brain injury or have had a stroke.

Who decides if someone has capacity?
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 says a person is unable to make a decision if they can’t do one of the following: understand information relevant to a decision; retain that information long enough to make the decision; use or weigh that information; or communicate the decision.

If you do not have mental capacity you may need a court-appointed deputy instead – A deputy is someone appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions for someone who is unable to do so on their own.

Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

This allows you to choose one person or more to make decisions about things like:

• your daily routine (eg eating and what to wear)
• medical care
• moving into a care home
• life-sustaining treatment

This type of Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used when you’re unable to make your own decisions.

Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney

This lets you choose one person or more to make decisions about money and property for you such as:

• paying bills
• collecting your benefits
• selling your home

This type of Lasting Power of Attorney can be used as soon as it’s registered, with your permission.

How to make a Lasting Power of Attorney

• Choose your attorney
Complete the forms to appoint them as your attorney.
Register your Lasting Power of Attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian (this can take up to 10 weeks).

What to do next

The action to take depends on the situation. (We use the word ‘they’ below for simplicity, but, of course, you can set up a Power of Attorney for yourself as well.)

If they still have capacity
This is the best time to act. If the person still has capacity and would like to make arrangements in case they lose mental capacity, they can set up a Lasting Power of Attorney.

It takes up to 10 weeks to register and will only be used if and when they lose capacity, unless they specify otherwise on the application.

If they’ve lost capacity

If a spouse, relative or friend already has limited mental capacity, but didn’t set up Power of Attorney in advance, it gets more difficult. You need to become a deputy of the Court of Protection to make decisions on their behalf.


Do I Need A Will?

Whatever your age, if you’ve assets such as a home, savings, or a business, and people or others you’d like to look after, then consider making a will.

All sorts of problems can arise if someone dies without one. Having a will is an effective way of making sure your assets are handled and distributed in the way you want.

Why it’s Important to make a Will

A will sets out who is to benefit from your property and possessions (your estate) after your death. There are many good reasons to make a will:

• You can decide how your assets are shared – if you don’t have a will the law says who gets what
• If you are an unmarried couple you can make sure your partner is provided for
• If you are divorced, you can decide whether to leave anything to your former partner
• You can make sure you don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than necessary

If you die without a will (called dying intestate), the intestacy rules determine who inherits what want when you die.

Requirements for a valid Will

In order for a will to be valid, it must be:-

• Made by a person who is 18 years old or over and made voluntarily and without pressure from any other person; and
• Made by a person who is of sound mind. This means the person must be fully aware of the nature of the document being written or signed and aware of the property and the identity of the people who may inherit; and made in writing; and
• Signed by the person making the will in the presence of two witnesses; and
• Signed by the two witnesses, in the presence of the person making the will, after it has been signed. A witness or the married partner of a witness cannot benefit from a will. If a witness is a beneficiary (or the married partner or civil partner of a beneficiary), the will is still valid but the beneficiary will not be able to inherit under the will.

Although it will be legally valid even if it is not dated, it is advisable to ensure that the will also includes the date on which it is signed.

As soon as the will is signed and witnessed, it is complete.

If someone makes a will but it is not legally valid, on their death their estate will be shared out under certain rules, not according to the wishes expressed in the will.

What Should be Included in a Will?

To save time and reduce costs when going to a solicitor, you should give some thought to the major points which you want included in your will. You should consider such things as:-

• How much money and what property and possessions you have, for example, property, savings, occupational and personal pensions, insurance policies, bank and building society accounts, shares
• Who you want to benefit from your will. You should make a list of all the people to whom you wish to leave money or possessions. These people are known as beneficiaries. You also need to consider whether you wish to leave any money to charity
• Who should look after any children under 18
• Who is going to sort out the estate and carry out your wishes as set out in the will. These people are known as the executors

There are a number of different ways to make a will.

Making a will with a solicitor
Most people use a solicitor. Ask about their experience and whether they belong to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). If you need advice on inheritance tax, for instance, check that the person who is writing up your will has additional tax qualifications and knows what they’re doing.

Making a will with a will writer
If you use a will writer, rather than a solicitor, check whether they belong to the Institute of Professional Will Writers or the Society of Will Writers. Ask for evidence of indemnity insurance and for details about procedures should you or your beneficiaries have a problem with the will.

Making a will with a bank
If you use your bank to make your will, check how its will-writing service is regulated and who actually provides the service.

How to change your will after you’ve written it
It’s sensible to review your will every few years and consider amending it or even writing a new one if there is a change in circumstances, such as if you get married, have children or get divorced.

Changes to a will can be made by codicil – an addendum to the original will – or by revoking the old will and drawing up a new one. You can revoke a will by physically destroying it. If the change is relatively simple, you can write a codicil and get it witnessed, and keep it with your existing will. But you should not alter the original will.

If you wish to make a new will, it should begin with a clause stating that it revokes all previous wills and codicils. If the changes are complicated, such as you remarry, it is worth getting legal advice on drawing up the new will