This week is Carers Week – a time to celebrate the contribution of the 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK. It’s also the moment when several charities, including Age UK, come together to call for better support for carers.
In the first part of our 2-part blog, Suzy shares her story of what it’s like to be carer.
I am a carer for my Mum who is 67 years old and lives with dementia. Of course I wouldn’t normally describe myself as that; I’m just a daughter who loves her Mum.
I have a wonderful family who care for each other deeply. We all live together in Chepstow: Mum, Dad, my husband, 2 children and I in a multi-generational home.
You know how sometimes you look at your child/niece/nephew/grandchild and have a glimpse of how they are suddenly looking older, more grown up? Sometimes I look at Mum and see her gently moving further away in her dementia. Not every time I see her, just sometimes.
Learning to ‘care well for Mum’
I am learning everyday about how to care well for Mum.
As a family, we have learnt to knock on the adjoining door before entering Mum’s lounge. This is because she has no memory of our part of the house, so to just walk into hers would frighten her.
We have learnt never to ask if she would like any food or drink, she always replies ‘No’. This is because the processing of information is difficult for her now.
We use techniques such as ‘I’ve made a cup of tea, so I made one for you too. Cheers!’ We place bowls of healthy snacks along the route she walks in to each room of her home. She can then pick at food throughout the day as her appetite decreases.
We have learnt that Mum’s tastes have changed. She loves sweet food now – she would never have a pudding before. Yesterday she had a chocolate mousse as a starter!
We have learnt to avoid bombarding Mum with information, to slow down and to give her time to respond.
We know how she likes to feel of worth, thanking her for reading with my children or sitting outside of their school in the car on a school run. We know that she is and will always remain a valued person in our family.
Find out more about carers and Carers Week at www.carersweek.org.