One of our young adult carers has been kind enough to share his perspective on isolation.
Coming from a caring background, I know more than most the loneliness that comes with the role. Although you have the company of whoever you are caring for, if they take a nap for example, you are then alone with your thoughts as the person you have been conversing with all day is now asleep and this can get very lonely. This is because as a young adult carer, a lot of the time you are doing this by yourself.
Lack of social opportunities
While I did spend a lot of time on my own caring for my mother, that was not the only reason I felt alone. This also came from the fact that when it did come to socializing, I had spent that much time caring for my mother, I was too tired to even do anything. This meant that a lot of the time I would choose to stay in and not see my friends. This isn’t healthy and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone because you do need time off.
Other factors can also lead to young adult carers feeling isolated and lonely. These include low income and high levels of stress. According to Wavelength, 2021 “There is a Carer’s Allowance available to people who provide care for 35 hours or more each week. However, this allowance is £62.10 – the equivalent to just £1.77 per hour. This is far below the national minimum wage (£6.70)”. This figure is quite frankly shocking.
Let’s say a young adult carer would like to go out with their friends. How are they expected to be able to do this when they are paid next to nothing for an such a demanding job? While their friends are out, young adult carers must stay in as they are unable to afford to meet up with their friends, which means they miss out on spending vital time which would be a massive boost mentally as they can switch off for at least a few hours. Speaking from personal experience, more needs to be done about this because there were times that I missed out on fun times with my friends due to financial reasons.
Reasons why carers don’t ask for help
One of the mains reasons carers do not ask for help is down to the fact that they cannot ask for help. Whether that be down to living alone with the person they are caring for or friends or family members being too far away, some carers decide against asking and so do not have anyone to physically help them out. I was lucky in that I also lived with my stepfather, not only helping my mother but also myself which meant that 100% of the responsibility wasn’t on myself and we could both ask each other for help. Some carers are not lucky enough to be in this situation and simply must get on with their caring responsibilities by themselves.
Asking for help
Being in a similar situation myself, I know exactly what it’s like to feel helpless when looking after a family member and sometimes you need help yourself. The fact that they are relying on you to help them out, might make you feel it is your duty to take care of them by yourself and chose not to ask for help in this situation. This is something I have been guilty of doing in the past. There have been days where I have struggled to look after my mother and my stepdad has been in work. I could have easily picked up the phone and asked for help but instead I chose to get on with whatever needed doing and in turn struggled with these tasks. No one should ever feel embarrassed to ask for help, but this is often the case. This is something that does need to change as this will lead to more difficult situations becoming easier with the simple solution of asking for someone to aid you.
One final reason as to why carers chose not to ask for help is down to privacy. Whether this is wanting to keep the privacy for whoever they are caring for or privacy for themselves, in some cases, carers opt not to seek help as they would like to keep that part of their lives private. This is completely understandable as sometimes people do not feel comfortable sharing such information with just anybody and may choose to cope with the demands of being a carer as opposed to getting a third party involved. However, I’d remind you that there are people who are trustworthy and can really help ease your caring load.
Where to find help
This is where the Shine team come in. They are around to offer financial, confidential advice and opportunities to socialise with others in a similar situation. As a young adult carer, you would not need to worry about being judged. Each Shine team member completely understands your situation through helping others in a caring role. So, don’t suffer alone, contact the Shine team today to see how they can help you.
If you do need someone to talk to or some time out, contact the Shine team to find out how they can help you. Do not suffer in silence, the Shine team are there to help you, just pick up the phone or email. Find out more about the Shine team here.