Leading a normal life
Travel with confidence
Going on a long journey or a holiday can be a major concern for the person you are caring for if they have a bladder or bowel problem. They may be anxious about their journey and whether or not they can manage their bladder problems in the same way on holiday as they do at home. However, you mustn’t let this put them off. It’s very important that they still get out and enjoy life, having a problem such as incontinence does not mean they have to stay at home.
The person you are caring for might find that it is worth changing the products they normally use to manage their incontinence, depending on the length of their journey. For example, if they normally use quite light pads it might be worth wearing a much heavier pad or an all-in-one product just for the journey.
Remember, if they do restrict their fluid intake in preparation for a journey, they must make up for this as soon as they reach their destination to avoid dehydration.
Many people have health problems which affects their lifestyles. Having the courage to tell others will give other people the opportunity to help them and make their trip more enjoyable. And remember, the first time is the hardest, once the person you are caring for has spoken up for the first time, they will find it easier to speak up in future.
Stock up on supplies
The best policy is to take along a good supply of all the items they will need e.g.pads, pants, creams and wipes. They may find that they can purchase items locally but should not take this for granted.
If they don’t have enough room to carry their supplies, it may be an idea to send stocks of bulky items ahead to the holiday destination or to a local health centre for collection.
Different countries have different rules and regulations so, if the person you are caring for carries products like catheters, syringes and medicines it may be useful to have a letter from a doctor explaining their use. This letter might also be used to explain their condition and help a local Healthcare professional if they need to visit one during their stay.
Ask if this can be supplied where the person you are caring for is staying as this will ensure that it fits properly and will save carrying additional weight in their luggage; their host will appreciate this too and should be used to providing such items. Failing this, they should take a generously sized waterproof sheet or pad, not one which is designed for a specific size of mattress.
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Hygiene and Laundry
As soon as the person you are caring for arrives at their destination they should find out what the waste disposal arrangements are. It may be best for them to take along their own disposal bags and a few bin liners for used pads – also a deodorising spray may save embarrassment if they have been unable to change their pads for a while.
They should also find out what the laundry arrangements are. They may be able to do some of their own laundry for a few, smaller items but many holiday venues do offer full laundry services.
Care for your career
Juggling the demands of caring with the responsibilities of a career is a tough call. People often feel they are being pulled in two different directions and as many as 1 in 5 people with significant caring responsibilities end up giving up work.
Those who fall out of the employment market often pay a heavy price – adding the worries of financial hardship to the pressures of caring. Think very carefully before giving up your job and explore all the options for support before taking drastic action.
As a working carer, you are likely to need a range of support at different times - from access to a telephone to check on the person you care for, to holiday leave arrangements when dealing with someone coming out of hospital. Telling your employer about your caring role is not always an easy step and you might feel it depends on whether or not they are likely to be supportive. Try to find out by asking your colleagues, personnel officer or union representative first. There may be existing support that you are not aware of, or you may find that your employer is open to exploring ways to support you.
Make the most of your money
For most people, caring has a negative impact on your finance and you, or the person you care for, may well have to pay for the support you need. Your income can take a dramatic drop through giving up work or reducing your working hours and you may face extra costs, such as heating, fuel and laundry as a consequence of caring for a loved one.
You may be entitled to some form of free or part-funded support from the state or private health insurance. Make sure you explore all avenues and ask other carers for advice if possible.
Looking After Yourselfs
Caring for a loved one can be extremely demanding and, at the same time, very rewarding. Because of this, carers often find that they focus so much time and energy on caring for others that they forget to look after themselves. If you don’t look after yourself as well you will eventually find that caring for the one you love becomes more difficult and this will affect the level and quality of care you are able to provide. So don’t jeopardise your role as a carer by ignoring your own needs. We hope that the guidance in this section of the website will help you become a better and healthier carer.
Don't do it alone
It might sometimes feel like you’re the only one in this situation but actually the experience of looking after a family member, partner or friend is very common. For example, in the UK it is estimated that one in every eight adults is a carer and it’s a role that most people will take on at some point in their lives.
In the beginning, caring can be bewildering, confusing and demanding so all carers need some support and back-up. One of the most important things to accept is that you cannot do this all by yourself without serious risks to your health and well-being.
Family and friends
Many carers turn to family and friends for support and to help get a break from caring. In lots of cases this works out well and caring is shared. However, if you find that family and friends are not helping as much as you’d like, then you should not to hide the extent of your caring role from them.
Many carers don’t want people to think they aren’t coping so they cover up how hard it really is. Your family and friends simply may not realise the level of care you are providing and the impact it’s having on you. They may find it hard to ask you if you need any help or may not want you to think they are interfering. They may be reluctant to offer help in case you get the wrong end of the stick and think they are saying you can't cope – so don’t be afraid to ask for help as soon as you need it.
Many carers find they become increasingly isolated. Friends and family don’t come round to visit as often as they once did, invitations stop arriving and gradually your social life can decline. There may be many reasons for this but, sadly, some people just don't know how to react to illness or disability and they find it awkward to deal with.
Even if you find you are isolated and caring alone, there are many Carers Support groups you could connect with to get some advice and practical help.
Get some practical help
Most people would benefit from practical support to help with caring for a loved one. This could be in the form of equipment to help you lift the person you care for, the provision of someone to sit with the person you care for if you need to go out or a holiday from caring where the person you are caring for goes into residential care.
Paying for this sort of help can be expensive so you should shop around and get good advice. There are a variety of organisations and companies that can advise on buying equipment like hoists, wheelchairs and other disability aids. When it comes to having someone coming into your home to carry our care there is clearly the need to have someone you trust. Some people organise replacement care informally from friends and family or they buy in the help they need from a reputable commercial care agency.
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