A Healthy You


Feeling overwhelmed or overloaded? Find yourself in a carers position for elderly parents, a sick child or partner perhaps? Your friends and family can be a good support to open up to and we can help support with the added responsibilities, emotional side and having that extra weight on your shoulders too. Have a look at the items we cover off this month.


April Article


Hidden Carers


What impact does caring for generations of family have on those in their 60s and 70s? The sandwich generation, when the term was coined – people who care for ageing parents while supporting their children, it generally referred to people in their 30s and 40s. Now the sandwich generation has grown older and deeper. People in their 50s, 60s and 70s are caring for their elderly parents, needy adult children and lively grandchildren. The sandwich has become a triple.

Experts say the layers of responsibility will soon grow, with pensioner children caring for two generations either side of them, from grandparent to grandchild. At the same time, the government will expect these adult children to work ever longer and save more for their own old age.




Fitting it all in


We have looked at two important barriers to working for those in their 50s and early- to mid-60s – health and caring.

"A carer is considered to be anyone who spends time looking after or helping a friend, family member or neighbour who, because of their health and care needs, would find it difficult to cope without this help regardless of age or whether they identify as a carer."

In 2016 to 2017, of all people aged 52 to 64 years, 50% still had at least one living parent, 82% had at least one child, and 45% had a grandchild. Additionally, 75% of men and 65% of women aged 52 to 64 were working. People in this age group are more likely than any other age group to be carers and many will be working at the same time. One in four women and around one in seven men provided care for someone in 2016 to 2017.

Women in particular are trying to “fit it all in”. Analysis has shown that a higher percentage of women aged 52 to 64 years provide care than men while at the same time the percentage of women in their 50s and 60s who work has been rising over recent decades and is now higher than ever before.

Care giving for women aged 45 to 64 years can be associated with increased social activity (this includes caring for dependent children). However, for the most-part, informal care giving can be a mentally and physically demanding responsibility, which can negatively affect a person’s overall health and in turn, their ability to work. Research has shown those who combine work and care often do so at personal cost such as tiredness, ill-health and lack of leisure.

A recent study showed few employees want to give up work in order to take on caring responsibilities. However, decisions about working were based on a combination of factors, including financial considerations, health, job satisfaction and stress, as well as caring responsibilities. Flexible working hours and part time options are most likely to encourage people in their 50s to continue working for longer

“Workers aged in their 50s and early 60s are more likely than any other age group to be juggling caring responsibilities and working. In 2016 to 2017, 65% of men and 60% of women aged 52 to 64 years who were carers were also in work.”



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When Caregiving Creates Tension Among Siblings

Providing care for an aging or ill parent can bring out the best and the worst in sibling relationships. Ideally, the experience of caregiving is a time for siblings to come together and provide mutual support to one another. However, stressful situations can cause old rivalries to flare up or old wounds to be reopened. This can further escalate strained relations and result in painful conflict. Yet seen another way, caregiving can strengthen sibling bonds and provide an opportunity to nourish family relationships because there is a common purpose


Here are three ways to find common ground and improve your relationship with your siblings.


Finding it difficult to open up and relate to family and friends when you are going through periods of change or challenging times?

There is nothing worse than feeling helpless. Every day there are thousands of people in the electrical industry worrying about a situation, sometimes with nobody to turn to or perhaps not wanting to burden anyone with their troubles.

Perhaps you have got into financial issues as a result of a relationship breakdown? Or maybe a family member or colleague has been suffering with ill health and you don’t know how you can help them? Or perhaps you are caring for a family and finding it hard to cope, with feelings of overwhelming stress and anxiety?

Communication goes a long way and it important to remember that your family and friends are there to help, if you can find a way to open and communicate with them. There are five stages that can be identified in finding it difficult to open up and relate to family and friends when you are going through periods of change or challenging times.

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order


Denial is the first of the five stages. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. As you accept the reality of the situation and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning to deal with the process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.


Anger is a necessary stage of the dealing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will be able to accept the situation and cope with it. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, and your loved ones, but also to yourself. Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned and left to deal with the overwhelming situation or problem, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure.


We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumour sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.


After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a currently difficult or saddening situation in your life. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing and remind yourself that depression is a normal and appropriate response.


Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened or is happening. This stage is about accepting the reality of the situation or problem and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones, as we begin to live again and enjoy our life. Once we can accept the reality of the new situation, we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given communication and opening up with family and friends a chance to help.

Adapted from the common 5 stages of grief


Carers caring for someone with dimentia


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Alzheimer’s Research UK produced a report called “Dementia in the Family” which looked at the stories of six people with dementia and their carers. It showed the stresses and issues involved with caring for someone with dementia, but it also showed that the experience can be both rewarding and uplifting. Read the report here.

Caring for a family member


Is challenging:

carers manage difficult changes in their loved ones’ behaviour and personality, including aggression in some cases. Caring full-time can leave family members feeling socially isolated and having to meet hidden costs.

Is rewarding:

caring is often a very rewarding experience that can strengthen family bonds through the close and intimate relationship shared.

Can change family relationships:

changes in behaviour and personality can cause family carers to treat their loved one in a different, more childlike way. Carers’ relationships with siblings can also become strained as the amount of care increases.

Impacts psychological and physical health:

the negative health consequences of looking after a family member with dementia are well documented.

Changing relationships

Caring for their loved one also affected the carers’, relationships with other family members because of the resentment and guilt caused by one family member taking on the vast majority of the caring responsibility. Existing research shows that family carers often treat their loved one in a different, more infantile way because of the impact of the condition on their behaviour and personality. The carers we spoke to all demonstrated this to an extent and they particularly struggled to cope with behaviours such as anger and frustration, which sometimes in turn led to physical violence by the person with dementia. The emotional impact of all these factors led carers to become frustrated and depressed.

Impact on relationships with the wider family

Carers’ relationships with siblings typically became strained as the amount of care required increased. This led to some siblings falling out with each other and to feelings of resentment. Carers UK suggest that 57% of carers lose touch with family or friends as a result of their caring responsibilities, leading to increased isolation and emotional distress. Carers also felt that other family members did not understand the physical and emotional strain that caring places on them, which led to further resentment.

Social isolation

Family carers have little ability to socialise and any ‘me’ time is lost, as caring duties and the needs of the family member are prioritised. This is not unusual; according to Carers UK, eight in 10 (83%) carers have felt lonely or socially isolated as a result of their caring responsibilities. Despite this isolation, the carers strongly emphasised the positive aspects of being able to provide support at such a crucial time in their loved one’s life.

Impact on personal goals

Caring for a family member with dementia can be a 24 hour, seven days a week responsibility. It is both emotionally and physically exhausting and can leave some carers with little energy or enthusiasm for anything else. The absence of a social life was a sacrifice recognised by carers, but they considered it their duty and responsibility to look after their loved one. Care for their family member was prioritised over their own wellbeing, and this finding corresponds to the findings from other studies. It was clear that all the carers we spoke to sacrificed their social lives to provide round the clock care for their loved one, but this was justified through a strong sense of duty and responsibility. They prioritised their caring responsibilities over personal time, holidays and romantic relationships.

Psychological health

The mental and physical health of family carers taking part in this study was poor and appears to be related to the progression of the condition. All of the carers experienced high levels of stress and depression and these symptoms were further exacerbated by social isolation. It is clear that these factors contribute to the ill-health and exhaustion observed in the carers.

Existing research suggests that stress is a common health problem for carers of people with dementia. The carers we spoke to all appeared stressed and saddened by their duty as a carer. The responsibility of providing around the clock care had a negative impact on their psychological wellbeing, and this was exacerbated by the sadness of feeling that they are gradually losing their loved one.

Physical health

The physical health of the carers was poor. They were exhausted as a result of sleep deprivation, carrying out all of the household chores, extra cleaning and laundry as well as moving or lifting their loved one.

Dementia in the Family: The impact on carers

Key to Communication


Some people like to talk, some prefer touch and others are more visual or respond better to gift giving than an outward discussion of feelings. You probably know which communication style you prefer, but what about your partner’s, friends or family? We are all unique, and we all respond to different stimuli in distinct ways, and effective communication with the others you care about will come from acknowledging this. If there’s miscommunication, you’ll miss the opportunity to build trust, honesty and support, and you could all feel frustrated within the situation and relationship.

Communication Diagram


Improving Communication in our relationships


In consideration of wellness, Self-Determinism Theory suggests three key factors attributed to wellness; autonomy, relatedness and competence. Autonomy is having choice-fullness and action, Relatedness - feeling close to and connected with others. Competence - feeling as though you are competent and effective - able to attain desired outcome. Communication is fundamental to maintaining relationships and particularly relatedness.


Here are 9 steps to improving communications


1. Stop and listen

hard to put aside our point for the moment and just listen. We’re often so afraid of not being heard, we rush to keep talking. Ironically, such behaviour makes it all the more likely we won’t be heard.

2. Force yourself to hear

You’ve stopped talking for the moment, but your head is still swirling with all of the things you want to say, so you’re still not really hearing what is being said. Laugh all you want, but therapists have a technique that works very well that “forces” them to really hear what a client tells them — rephrasing what a person has just said to them (called “reflection”).

This may upset a partner if you do it too much or do it in a tone that suggests you’re mocking rather than trying to seriously listen. So, use the technique sparingly, and let your partner know why you’re doing it if they ask — “Sometimes I don’t think I’m getting what you’re telling me, and doing this lets me slow my mind down a bit and really try and hear what you’re saying.”

3. Be open and honest with your partner

Some people have never been very open to others in their life. Heck, some people might not even know themselves, or know much about their own real needs and desires. But to be in a relationship is to take a step toward opening up your life and opening up yourself.

Being open means talking about things you may have never talked about with another human being before in your life. It means being vulnerable and honest with your partner, completely and unabashedly. It means opening yourself up to possible hurt and disappointment. But it also means opening yourself up to the full potential of all a relationship can be.

4. Pay attention to nonverbal signals

Most of our communication with one another in any friendship or relationship isn’t what we say, but how we say it. Nonverbal communication is your body language, the tone of your voice, its inflection, eye contact, and how far away you are when you talk to someone else. Learning to communicate better means that you need to learn how to read these signals as well as hear what the other person is saying. Reading your partner’s nonverbal signals takes time and patience, but the more you do it, the more attuned you will be to what they’re really saying, such as:

  • Folded arms in front of a person may mean they’re feeling defensive or closed off.
  • Lack of eye contact may mean they’re not really interested in what you’re saying, are ashamed of something, or find it difficult to talk about something.
  • Louder, more aggressive tone may mean the person is escalating the discussion and is becoming very emotionally involved. It might also suggest they feel like they’re not being heard or understood.
  • Someone who’s turned away from you when talking to you may mean disinterest or being closed off.

All the while you’re reading your partner’s nonverbal signals, be aware of your own. Make and maintain eye contact, keep a neutral body stance and tone to your voice, and sit next to the person when you’re talking to them.

5. Stay focused in the here and now

Sometimes discussions turn into arguments, that can then morph into a discussion about everything and the kitchen sink. To be respectful of one another and the relationship, you should try and keep the discussion (or argument) focused to the topic at hand. While it’s easy to get in the cheap shots or bring up everything that an argument seems to call for, just don’t.

Arguments that do veer off tend to escalate and grow larger and larger. One party needs to make an effort at that point to try and de-escalate the argument, even if it means walking away from it, literally. But do so as respectfully as possible, saying something like, “Look, I can see this isn’t going to get any better by discussing it tonight. Let’s sleep on it and try talking about it with fresh eyes in the morning, okay?”

6. Try to minimize emotion when talking about important, big decisions

Nobody can talk about important, big matters if they feel emotionally vulnerable or charged-up and angry. Those are not the times to talk about the serious issues (like money, getting married, the kids, or retirement). You might think it impossible, nonsensical or even contradictory to talk about an emotional topic like getting married or having children without emotion. And yet, these discussions need to keep a foothold of rationality to them in order to not gloss over the realities that they bring.

7. Be ready to cede an argument

How many times do we continue to argue or have a heated discussion because we simply want to be “right.” So many of couples’ arguments revolve around one party thinking they’re “right” and the other party not willing to cede the point or back off. In fact, though, both parties need to back off.

By doing this, are you giving up a piece of yourself by compromising and not insisting on how right you are? Well, that’s something only you can decide. Would you rather be in a happy relationship where you respect the other person, even if you may occasionally disagree with them? Or would you rather be in an unhappy relationship where you know you’re always right, no matter what? It just comes down to your priorities — if being “right” is more important to you than your partner’s happiness, then perhaps you have not found the right partner.

8. Humour and playfulness usually help

You don’t have to be funny in order to use humour and playfulness in everyday conversations. You just need to use the sense of humour you do have and try and inject it into more of your communications with your partner. Humour helps lighten everyday frustrations and helps puts things into perspective more gently than other methods. Playfulness reminds us that even as adults, we all have a side to us that enjoys fun and taking a break from the seriousness of work and other demands made on us.

9. Communicating is more than just talking

To communicate better and more effectively in your relationship, you don’t only have to talk. You can communicate in other ways — through your actions, and nowadays, electronically too (through email, Facebook, blogs, texting or Twitter). All too often, couples focus only on the talking aspect of their relationship, but your actions also speak loudly. Keeping in touch throughout the day or week through email or other electronic means also reminds the person you’re thinking about them and how important they are in your life. Even if such communications are mainly playful or inconsequential, they can help lighten your partner’s day and improve their mood.

Some couples also find that using email or another method is easier to discuss emotional issues rather than trying to do so face-to-face. It’s something to consider if every time you try and bring up a particular topic with your significant other, it turns into an argument or they shy away from it. Email or texting may be a way of communicating about such matters more openly and directly.


Industry Tactics

Industry statistics

evidence the number one reason for separation or divorce in our industry is excess travel. It is important we tackle the issue of communication and support our marriages and relationships. These guidelines engage with the question of how communication works in marriage and how to improve marriage communication


Employer/employee relationships

Employer/employee relationships

and maintaining communication is important particularly when dealing with mental health conditions. Mind offers a helpful step by step guide to engage with the question of employer disclosure or communication please see the link as follows:


In terms of communicating work-related issues

In terms of communicating work-related issues

a helpful resource is Acas who provide multiple services for employers and employees to support you through workplace problems. The Acas helpline number is 0300 123 1100. It is available Monday to Friday 8am-6pm and website


People are relationships!

People are relationships!

Psychologist, Kathy Marshack, Ph.D. has worked as a marriage and family therapist for 34 years and provides key information on improving communication in relationships



Useful Links


4 Communication Habbits
The Key to Communication in Relationships
6 Surprising Ways to Communicate Better With Your Partner
5 Communication Tips


8 Steps to Better Family Communication
Informal care and work after fifty
Communication Challenges with Family and Friends
Dementia Affects the Whole Family