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How to cope with the transition of carer responsibilities for a loved one

Caring for someone you love is an all-encompassing role that can define many aspects of your life. It can therefore be extremely difficult and unsettling when your life circumstances change, and you can no longer act as the primary carer for your loved one. Whether you’re moving away or have a new job or educational opportunity, it can be a struggle to transition your loved one to a new primary carer. However, there are ways to make that transition smoother for your loved one and to ensure they feel reassured and settled during every step of the process.

Here are some helpful tips on how to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved:

Involve your loved one in the decision-making process

If it becomes clear that your life circumstances are about to change and you’ll no longer be able to continue the role of being the primary carer for your loved one, make a plan as to how to handle the situation. However, it is essential to involve your loved one in the process, if that is possible.

When you are deciding who is going to step into your shoes as their new carer, ask them who they would prefer. Making them feel actively involved in the process will ease their worries and fears about the impending change and give them an element of control over their life.

Avoid a sudden switch and make the change a gradual one

The last thing you want is for your friend or relative to be discombobulated by the change from one carer to another. Prepare your loved one for the change by talking to them, explaining the reasoning behind the switch, and reassuring them that you are not leaving their life, but simply taking on a different role in their life.

If possible, instead of leaving your role as a carer suddenly and instantly allowing the new carer to step into your shoes, spend some time together with both your loved one and their future carer. Practise doing your daily tasks together and allow their new carer to gradually take more of the responsibility for helping them. This will not only make the transition smoother, but it will also reassure you to see them being thoroughly cared for and happy with the new carer in their life.

Stay present in your loved one’s life

Just because you are no longer your loved one’s primary carer, it does not mean that you’re exiting from their life entirely. Visit them or call them regularly to strengthen the bond between the two of you. Take them outdoors or to a day centre when you have some free time so they can appreciate the memories you make together.

If you are moving away to a new area, then ensure that you make time for regular phone or video calls. This continued and enduring presence in their life will reassure them and give them a sense of stability.

It can be especially difficult if you’re a carer for someone who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease because they might not fully understand the situation or comprehend why you’re leaving and not there with them, but it can be very helpful to affix written reminders to the walls, telling them that you love them and that you have not gone away, but will still be there for them when they really need you.

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Have compassion for yourself as a carer

When you transition away from caring for a loved one, there can be a deep and pervasive sense of guilt. However, it’s important not to immerse yourself in self-recriminations. Try using self-care techniques to cope with the change, because your own life will be very different too.

Positive affirmations, such as reminding yourself how dedicated you have been as a carer and how loving you have been towards your friend or relative, can really help you to recognise the significance of your time as a carer.

You may feel a sense of loss in your life when you leave your role as a loved one’s primary carer because that role was extremely fundamental for you. Try and find some new ways to occupy your time and fill some of the void created by this huge life change.

Most importantly, try and seek the positive aspects of the situation, such as the fact that you’re beginning a new chapter in your life and that your loved one is well cared for and content in their situation.

If you’re finding it difficult to cope with the change alone, contact support services or voluntary organisations to enlist their advice and help.

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call 0333 331 3770

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