Life after caring

When you stop caring for someone, it can take some time to adjust to normal life.

Some people find that when they finish caring, they can feel physically and emotionally exhausted. After spending a lot of time looking after someone else, it’s important to take care of yourself and let people look after you.

You may need to sort out some practical matters fairly quickly, such as benefits. It could be helpful to write down lists of what you need to do. There are lots of people and organisations who can help and support you.

You might find you have more spare time. Going back to work may bring some routine back into your life. If you don’t go back to work, it may be a good time to take up a new hobby, or you could think about volunteering.

If you are finding it difficult to express your emotions, it may help to talk it through with someone.

Life after caring

It’s a natural reaction to want to do something positive straight away, but give yourself some time. You’ll need to adjust to no longer being a carer.

You can have a lot of time to fill, which can make you feel a bit lost – without purpose or direction. It’s not uncommon to walk around the house talking to yourself.

If you don’t return to work, this may be a good time to learn something new. You could volunteer or campaign to improve current information and support for carers.

You will have to deal with some practical matters fairly quickly, such as benefits. But you don’t have to rush into decisions about what you will do next. Take your time and remember there are lots of people and organisations out there to support you.

We have more information about organising finances when you’re caring for someone with cancer.

‘Having spent a lot of time caring for someone else, it’s important that you take care of yourself. And where possible, try to let other people look after you too.’

NA


Practical tips to help you after caring ends

  • Write down what you need to do in the short and long term.
  • If you’re claiming Carer’s Allowance, it’s important that you let the Carer’s Allowance Unit know you have stopped being a carer. There may also be a change in any other benefits you are entitled to. It’s best to find out as quickly as possible what you need to do about benefits, as this will help to avoid problems later on.
  • Try to accept help that’s offered to you. After putting the needs of someone else first for so long, you shouldn’t feel guilty about accepting support.
  • Look after your health. It’s not unusual to be affected physically and mentally by your experience. This may happen weeks, months, or even years after you stop being a carer.
  • Get advice and support. You could call us on 0808 808 00 00 or visit Carers UK.


Your feelings

It’s not unusual to feel guilty about returning to a ‘normal’ life free of caring responsibilities. It can feel strange when your caring role ends. You may want to take time out or try to continue with life as if nothing has changed. Do whatever feels right for you.

People are likely to rally around you for the first few days or weeks if the person you were caring for has died. Sometimes this might mean it takes months or years for the loss to sink in.

If you are finding it difficult to express your emotions, you could think about writing them down in a diary. It may help to talk to someone. You could call us on 0808 808 00 00 or visit macmillan.org.uk/selfhelpandsupport to find your nearest support group.

Despite the fact that you have stopped caring for the person, you may find it hard to step back from that role. You may constantly feel an overwhelming need to help others or you may want to keep in contact with the hospital or hospice that provided support to the person you cared for. This is normal and something you can use positively.

If the person you were caring for has recovered, you may find that you constantly worry about the cancer coming back. This may mean you’re more protective than usual. Try to live life without this worry hanging over you. We have more information to help you if you’re worrying about cancer coming back.

As cancer treatments get better, many people are now living with cancer as a long-term condition. This may mean you need to continue being a carer, due to the long-term effects of cancer treatment. We have more information about the long-term effects of different treatment types. You can also read more about living with or beyond cancer.

‘There are still many support services out there to help you. Many of us are still benefitting from attending support groups even though our caring role has ended.’

NA


New challenges

You may have to go back to work after caring ends, but it may also be something you want to do to bring some routine back into your life. We have more information about working if you’re caring for someone with cancer .

You may want to refresh certain skills that you have not used for a while, or just learn something new. Your local library or some adult education centres can find suitable courses in your area. There are some useful websites you could look at for more information about courses, for example learndirect.com and nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/courses

Volunteering can be a great way to make a difference, meet new people and develop new skills. You could help out at the hospital where the person you cared for received treatment or your local carers’ centre, or volunteer for a charity.

If you are interested in volunteering for Macmillan, contact your local volunteering adviser. You can find details at macmillan.org.uk/volunteer or by calling 0808 808 00 00.

It’s good to be aware that organisations and charities may have restrictions on who they accept as volunteers, especially if someone has recently been bereaved. Speak to the organisation or charity about any restrictions they may have.

Macmillan Cancer Voices is a UK-wide network for people to use their experiences of cancer to improve cancer care. You can find out more about this by visiting macmillan.org.uk/cancervoices or by calling 0808 808 00 00.

Back to Looking after someone

Being a carer

As more and more people are living with cancer, a greater number of people are taking on caring responsibilities.

Working with professionals

It’s important to have a good relationship with the health and social care professionals looking after your loved one.

Preparing your home

There are practical things you can do to get the house ready before the person you care for comes home.

Support for you

Caring for someone with cancer can be challenging and tiring. Help is available to support carers and enable them to look after their loved one.

If you're a carer with cancer

Looking after someone while going through treatment yourself can be challenging. Support is available for carers.