Being a carer

It may be that you do not consider yourself to be a 'carer' - what you are doing is just part of your relationship with the person you are looking after. However, if you give unpaid support to a member of your family or to a friend, who could not manage without your help, you are a carer.

Being a carer is not easy - it can have a huge effect on you and your life. Caring for someone with a brain tumour can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Of course, each carer's experience is unique to their own circumstances, but it is often forgotten that you can only care for someone well, if you care for yourself.

What can carers do to look after themselves?

Carers say the following things have most helped them to cope:

  • breaks in caring
  • practical support
  • carer's assessment
  • financial support
  • emotional support
  • information

Breaks in caring

This can mean anything from daily breaks of an hour or two, to respite holidays of one or more weeks, plus anything in between.

Many carers feel guilty if they take time out for themselves, but it is vital that you make time for yourself.

Make use of offers of support from family and friends. Do something you enjoy that helps you switch off and find yourself again for awhile. Make this part of your caring routine.

Your local council can also help, for both regular short breaks and less frequent longer breaks. Speak to them about whether your loved one could attend a day centre or if they can arrange for 'respite care'.

You may also have a local carer's centre that can offer help.

Practical support

Take steps to retain or build yourself a support network

Let people know what you need, no matter how small - friends are sometimes nervous about asking.

Let others know you are a carer

  • your employer - most employers will do what they can to be flexible and to help.
  • your GP - to look after you properly, they need to know your circumstances.
  • your local social services - ask for a carer's assessment to work out what practical and financial support is available to you.

Useful numbers

Make a list of useful numbers, especially for out of hours.

Check with your health team about the circumstances in which you need to ask for help.

Look after your physical health

It's important that you do not sacrifice your own health.

Try to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can affect your concentration and ability to make decisions. It can also make you feel depressed and increase your risk of some health conditions. Talk to your GP for advice or medication.

Make sure you eat well. This will give you more energy to provide the care.

Ask about the many aids and adaptations that are available (e.g. hoists, rails). Make sure you are trained in using them correctly.

Get trained in moving and handling a person and learn more about medications and their side-effects.

If your loved one becomes violent

Some tumours can affect a person's ability to control their behaviour and emotions, leading to aggressive behaviour.

Learn to read the trigger signs and seek help from your healthcare team to manage these symptoms more safely.

Remember - it is the disease, not the person, that is doing this.

Carer's assessment

You are entitled by law to a carer's assessment by the local authority to assess your own needs. This includes any help that would maintain your own health and also balance caring with other aspects of your life.

Get everything in writing - this ensures less confusion and less is forgotten.

Financial support

Find out about any financial assistance that is available to you. This is an important part of looking after yourself and relieving your stress.

Only use expert, trained advisors. We can direct you to this support.

Emotional health and support

Being a carer is not easy. It can be physically and emotionally demanding and may have been thrown on you with no time to adjust.

Although you may gain much personal satisfaction from being a carer, feelings of anxiety, stress, frustration, fear, anger, isolation and loneliness are also common.

It is important to acknowledge that these are very natural feelings and you are not alone in feeling this way.

Reach out to people you can talk honestly to and express these feelings. This could be a friend or relative, a counsellor, or someone else going through the same thing.

Be aware of depression

If you are feeling that everyday activities are a struggle, you have little motivation or are unable to feel enjoyment in things you used to, this could be depression. Talk to your GP if you feel this way.

Many carers find it helpful to share their experiences though our closed Facebook Group, which you can join today.


You may feel quite lost when your caring role stops. Whatever your situation, it can be quite difficult and can take some time to adjust.

If you are grieving, you will have all the emotions this brings, plus the practical matters that need to be dealt with.

Our team can guide you to the support that you need in the place and time that you need it.

Page last reviewed: 06/2015

Next review date: 06/2018

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