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Helping Carers Cope

Carers play a vital role in supporting an individual to remain living at home, and although rewarding, can be confusing and exhausting. Many carers play a key role in managing the incontinence of a loved one and may be the key to the success of any continence plans.

How to look after Carers in their role

Two thirds of carers in Australia and NZ are women 1, 2 In 2015 there were 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia The average age of a primary carer is 55, with 56% of carers still working as well as caring2

Carers are at risk of experiencing mental health issues, social isolation and ill health, all as a result of their caring role, and a carers ability to cope will have a direct impact on those they care for.  Due to the trusted relationship you will have developed, you may be just the right person to ask how they are managing and to give the following advice.

Feeling overwhelmed about incontinence?

This is often a new issue for many carers and they may be unsure of 
• Which product to use
• How to apply product correctly 
• When to change the pad
• If the person they are caring for is voiding too much or too little
• Worries about night time voiding and falls etc... 

Your professional knowledge and expertise will enable you to address these issues and our online tools can also help. 
• Our product selector guide will take the guess work out of choosing the right product
• Free samples with fitting guides and product information
• Tips for a healthy bladder to reduce bladder symptoms
• Information about types of incontinence and causes 
• How to discuss incontinence 

Sleep
A lack of sleep can be very common for carers and their loved ones if there is a lot of incontinence at night. It can erode a carers resilience and ability to cope and affect the behaviour of the person being cared for.

Advise carers to;
• Establish a routine of going to bed and getting up at about the same time 
• Sleeping in a dark room, or listening to relaxing music
• Develop a relaxing pre-sleep ritual; bath, hot chocolate drink, reading 
• Avoid napping during the day
• Avoiding caffeinated drinks before bed
• Ensure the person they care for has used the toilet before bed (if possible)

A carer cannot establish a good routine if the person they are caring for is awake due to continence needs, leakage or discomfort. TENA can help too;
• ensuring correct fit to avoid leakage – See fitting guides
• use of a high capacity pad overnight – TENA Flex Ultima holds up to 5 litres of urine, which may allow for the loved one to sleep all night and stay dry. 
 

Good ergonomics at home related to pad use
As the level of dependency and care needs increase, a carer may become more at risk of personal injury at home. TENA Flex is easy to apply for those who are less mobile and heavily incontinent.  See the range of flex products and how to apply them.

Diet and Exercise
Having a healthy body weight will make physical tasks less strenuous for a carer, reducing sugar and increasing fibre could assist with overall health. Exercise improves strength, resilience, can promote better sleep and general health.  If a carer is housebound you could advise them to organise a local walking group with other carers, friends or neighbours or maybe raise the idea of in-home respite so they can go outside the home to exercise. 

Socialising 
Many carers experience social isolation which can lead to depression and anxiety. A carers role can be all consuming.   Are there any carers support groups in the area that you could help them find or services at home they could be eligible for to assist with workload?
Advising the carer to create a care plan to map out their entire week and to factor in some time out/activities for themselves can ensure their needs are not neglected.

Employment
Many carers are balancing work and care. Work provides a sense of self, social interaction and financial reward.  If a carer is working and struggling, advise them to have a conversation with their employer to see if carer support or leave is available, working from home or flexible hours can be an option. 

Financial Aid for Continence Products
Some individuals with incontinence and their carers may be struggling financially and be too proud to express this and may be unaware there is financial support available

Useful Links for Carers
Asking for help can be difficult for many carers, due to pride, or just hoping that they can juggle everything. Providing them with links to information may help them enormously.  TENA UK have developed a website dedicated to carers that has useful information.
 
 
 
References
(1) http://carers.net.nz/
(2) Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) survey of Disability, Ageing and Caring