Helpful tips for those caring for others
Many of us who look after others don’t consider ourselves carers. Caring for the ones we love can be one of the most important things we do.
Whether you see yourself as a carer, or someone who simply helps out a loved one, one thing is for sure - caring for someone can take time and effort, and sometimes feels like a job in itself. What’s more, for those who juggle caring responsibilities with a job, it can be hard work managing the to do list. That’s why we’ve worked with Carers UK and Jo Whiley to bring you a selection of handy life-hacks to make things a little easier when it comes to caring for the people you love.
1. Food for thought
If you’re responsible for someone else’s meals, planning what you’re going to make in advance, or even preparing food in batches, is a simple way to free up some time later on.
What’s more, batch cooking can be a far more energy efficient way to prepare food.
If you need help getting started, there are a wide range of tools available. There are free meal planners available online which could help you plan what to buy each week.
There are also many smartphone apps which could give you ideas for meals, nutritional tips and reminders when you’re running low. Just search ‘meal planner’ in your phone’s app store.
2. Make time for yourself
Whether you’re caring for one or several people, it’s important to allocate moments for yourself.
Finding time to reflect, meditate, exercise or do anything that gives you mental and physical space could help you develop resilience for when you need it most.
3. Keeping connected
Many carers will be part of the so-called 'Sandwich Generation', responsible for both older relatives or loved ones, as well as children.
Life hacks for carers:
Bring everyone in your caring circle together via apps like Jointly, created by Carers UK.
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Apps such as Jointly, created by Carers UK, allow you to communicate and coordinate with those who share caring responsibilities with you, bringing everyone in your circle together in one place to plan, share or just chat.
Other benefits include keeping records in one place, creating task lists for each other, monitoring past and current medication or using the calendar to create time-specific events.
Keeping everyone in the loop with what’s happening means you can share the load.
4. Keep your home safe
Installing a door video system could be helpful, regardless of whether you receive or give care support.
Life hacks for carers:
Keep your home safe
If you look after someone with dementia or memory impairment, connect a video doorbell to your smartphone so you can safely monitor visitors.
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Eligibility may vary
With permission, a door video system at the home of someone you care for could provide more peace of mind. For those dealing with dementia, unexpected callers can be a worrying prospect. If you look after someone with dementia or memory impairment, connecting a video doorbell to your smartphone can allow you to monitor who is coming and going from a property. This can even enable you to speak to a caller via your device on behalf of the home’s occupant if required. There are many options and brands available.
5. Free legal advice for carers
In order to make informed decisions for both yourself and the person(s) you care for, you need to get advice from an expert. This is especially true for carers.
It may be the case that you need to discuss:
- Your employment rights as a carer (if you juggle working and caring)
- Paying care fees
- Power of Attorney
- The Mental Capacity Act
- The Court of Protection
- Complaints and claims
- Information sharing
If you feel you might benefit from legal advice, contact your local care groups, local authority or search online for reputable companies offering ‘free legal advice for carers’ in your area.
Alternatively, you can visit the Carer's UK website has helpful guidance on managing someone’s affairs, with downloadable resources offering carers’ tips on using services or arranging a power of attorney.
6. Medication management
There are handy devices available to help if you aren’t always around to ensure medication is dispensed at the right time for someone you support. Some types can conveniently remind someone to take the right medication, while also issuing the correct dosage at the right time.
Many of these have safety locks to stop someone from taking too much. While others include alerts, which can be sent to you (and other contacts) if medication hasn’t been taken when it should. These can be picked up at your local pharmacy, or from specialist health providers and from reputable companies online, too.
7. Find time for fitness
If you or someone you support finds it difficult to exercise regularly, there are specific apps to help that can be downloaded on any smartphone or tablet, as well as on websites. They can be motivating and help you keep track of your fitness progress. They can also help someone build strength, durability, and improve muscle tone, as part of a routine that can be tailored to the individual.
8. Make energy management easier
If you care for a relative or someone else close to you, a smart meter could help you both. Installed at no extra cost by your energy supplier, a smart meter will send automatic meter readings so neither of you will need to remember to do it manually. They also enable accurate, not estimated bills – so you know how much your bill should be, and how much to budget.
Smart meters come with a handy in-home display which will show you how much energy you’re using in near-real time and what it costs, helping you to budget more effectively.
For anyone who is blind, partially sighted, or has difficulties with dexterity or memory loss, an accessible in-home display (AIHD) could make tracking energy usage easier. The AIHD has been developed in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and includes features such as large buttons and text-to-speech functionality.
9. Simple security measures
Making sure the home of anyone you care for is secure each night can be time consuming and a potential source of concern, so taking things off the checklist or being able to do them remotely could be a simple way to sleep more soundly.
New technology like electronic curtain closing, remote locking mechanisms and wireless security cameras may help provide an extra level of protection and peace of mind.
10. Property exit sensors and GPS trackers
In a similar fashion to a door video system, exit sensors from your home let you know when someone has left the property. A vital feature allows you to monitor their movements on a smartphone app. If you’re caring for someone who is often confused or has memory loss, it’s a worry they could wander from their home and get lost. The exit sensor will ease those concerns.
They can be found at specialist product providers or other online retailers, as well as home and electrical stores and businesses that provide security products.
Click below for more information on tech solutions to caring and where to find them.
Whether you identify as a carer or not, anyone who is taking the time out of their own day to help someone in need is doing something important. A smart meter can help you free up time usually spent on admin for the things that really matter. Simply type your energy supplier in the box below and we'll redirect you to their website.
Want to find out more?
- How smart meters could transform health and social care - In just a few years, with the consent of the householder, data from smart meters could be used to help provide better care for people with conditions such as dementia, by making it easier for them to live in their own homes for longer.
- Smart Energy Explained - New research reveals that people living with a long-term disability, on low incomes or in later life say having a smart meter has made their lives easier. So, we've worked with Ade Adepitan MBE to highlight the different ways smart meters can benefit you.
- How a smart meter could benefit you, and the person you care for - Whether you have a formal caring relationship for a person in need, or just help out a family member, you're doing an important job. Read on to find out how a smart meter can make life easier