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A Carer’s Perspective

I had been looking after Mum for 18 months since she developed vascular dementia. I arranged for a friend and a cousin to support her during the day until I finished work and then I would go and stay with her until 7.30 pm, prepare food and settle her for the night. She was then on her own until 8.00 am.

She had some falls, nothing major (in that nothing was broken) but each time her confidence was knocked and I worried about her.  I visited Mum twice a day at weekends which was manageable until Mum fell against a radiator sustaining a third degree burn. After a two-week stay in hospital, where her health started to deteriorate, I realised that she needed to be home in familiar surroundings so I brought her back to live with me, until her health improved.  However, I soon realised she was not going to be able to be left alone again. Apart from four mornings a week when I was at work and others supported Mum, I cared for her. My husband was incredibly supportive but it put a strain on our relationship, as Mum’s needs took priority.

My life changed considerably. I could no longer make arrangements with friends or go away with my husband. Caring for an elderly relative is draining. With the best intention in the world, you can find yourself becoming irritable and end up resenting the person you are caring for. If it is a parent, you end up hating yourself every time you snap or become impatient. You go through a whole range of emotions, which saps your energy and leaves you exhausted, particularly if your sleep is disturbed.

I got in touch with Independent Living @ Home, who talked to me about Mum’s needs, got to know her personality and found out what was important to her. They organised a team of Support Workers to support her from Sunday to Wednesday, in her own home, while I worked.

This made a huge difference to my life. I no longer felt alone with a burden of responsibility for Mum’s care and support. My husband and were able to have some quality time together and I was able to concentrate on work, knowing that Mum was in good hands.

I also got to know the support workers as individuals and found them to be trustworthy, competent, and patient. They communicated well with me and mum and went ‘the extra mile’, keeping the house tidy and Mum happy. Most important of all, they supported Mum’s continued quality of life at home, keeping her out of a nursing home. My time spent with Mum was quality time meaning I would be more even-tempered and tolerant, knowing that I had three days to my husband and myself, while Mum is was in her own home and being well looked after.

I cannot thank Independent Living @ Home enough for all the support they have given me and would not hesitate to recommend their services to anyone who is struggling to care for an elderly dependant.