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Who is a carer?

The word 'Carer' is something we hear used often - but how do you know if it applies to you?

If you're reading this, you may be wondering if you, or someone you know, is a carer. Many people take pride in looking after those important to them, and may not have considered if they're a carer. But, actually, many more of us are carers than we realise.

Asking yourself 'Am I a carer?' and recognising yourself as one can help you get the support you need - and, while you might not feel like you have the time to focus on yourself, accessing that support can help the person you're caring for, too.

What is a carer?

Supporting someone else is sometimes called caring. You are a carer if you provide (unpaid) support and care for someone who has an illness, disability, mental health problem or addiction. Carers can provide all sorts of emotional and practical support. Family and Friend carers (sometimes referred to as unpaid or informal carers) are different to paid care workers who earn money for looking after someone.

Is it obvious when you're a carer?

Being someone's carer probably only describes part of your relationship with them. You may also be a parent, partner, sister, brother, child, friend or other family member. This relationship can be just as (or more) important to you. You may also have other caring roles as well, for example as a parent to other children.

You might even be caring for someone you have a difficult or distant relationship with. Either way, once unpaid carers have identified themselves as being in a caring role, many wish they had sought help sooner.

Supporting others can often be rewarding however it can be mentally and physically exhausting. The time you spend caring can really vary too - some people look after someone for just a short time and others find themselves caring for someone 24 hours a day for a long period of time.

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