We know the role of carers is often underestimated and undervalued. Carers provide, coordinate, communicate, advocate and transport the person they love. This takes time, effort, and energy. When carers feel tired, they are less likely to accept invitations to ‘do something’ and without knowing, their social network can become an ever decreasing circle.
Studies by Julian Abel, a UK palliative care consultant, thought leader for compassionate communities, have shown that when we say ‘No’ three times to someone, they will simply stop asking. They will disconnect from us and leave us alone because they think that is what we want. And it might be what we want in the short term, but perhaps not in the long term.
The life of the carer is already challenging, but because of one small word, there are fewer people to share it with. When our network diminishes, we lose the joy of conversation, the thrill of gossip, the love, and the laughter that comes with being together. We are human and we thrive on connection. We should not underestimate how valuable this is. In fact, some studies have shown that loss of social contact is as bad for our health as ten cigarettes a day.
As carers, if we feel exhausted and busy, what can we do?
Like most things, it’s best to start with a first small step.
Imagine you are in the supermarket and someone comes over and asks how you are and how your person is. Do you need anything? Can they do anything? Previously you may have said ‘No, we’re grand. We don’t need any help’. The new you must say YES!
We have designed a poster you can download and pin to your fridge for you to say YES! And we urge you to accept the challenge to say YES even if you don’t know what you are saying yes to.
When someone asks if you need help, say:
“Yes I do. I just don’t know what I need at the moment. I do have a list at home. Can I text you later? It would really help actually. Thank you for asking and please keep asking, I so appreciate it!”
If you pin the Say Yes reminder to your fridge, you can make a note of the jobs that need doing. Then when you are really busy, you can text your network and ask them for help.
Print out the Say Yes checklist
From desktop: Right click on the image and save it. Then click ‘Print’.
From mobile: Tap and continue to press the picture until a short menu emerges. From the menu, click on the option ‘Save image or Download Image’. Then click ‘Print’.
It’s a simple thing. Try it and see if it helps. Even if it doesn’t help – keep saying Yes!