At this time of year, so much is written about how to keep people with dementia occupied and what to do on the big days but, sadly, we forget those who look after the likes of me and thousands of others.
What about the carers, both paid and unpaid, who selflessly give their time, day after day, month after month, looking after those who can’t look after themselves, don’t they need a break as well? Of course they do.
The paid carers who work in nursing homes and care homes, as well as hospitals, when the snow falls and you can’t get a bus or a car through, how do you think they get there?
Walking, of course and sometimes not only in the snow but sub-zero temperatures to make sure others are looked after. Those who work on home care visiting house after house hoping their clients will be ok, warm and have enough food.
How did we think they get there when we cannot even leave the house or complain it gets too cold to go out? They get there with dedication and determination, something deep inside that drives them on to help others.
Then, there are the thousands of unpaid carers, husbands, wives, aunties uncles, grandmas and grandads and even youngsters, there are more young carers out there that you may think!
Those who have looked after loved ones without pay 24/7 and 365 days a year. These are the people who cannot clock off, ask for a break or someone to take over, it’s their holidays as well.
When I was diagnosed I / we lost 70% of my email contacts and the phone stopped ringing, people were afraid or just didn’t know what to talk about for fear of upsetting us etc.
But what they didn’t know was the hurt we felt when people who we had been friends for years suddenly dropped off the planet and one or two actually crossed the road when they saw us in Town (Yes that really happened). And who do you think it upsets the most?
The carers, of course, they can see what’s going on around them, they are more aware of what’s happening and they have feelings as well. As a couple pre-diagnosis, you go to parties and places at night, you get invited to friends’ houses in the evening or for Sunday lunch, or invite others round.
But, when one of you is diagnosed with dementia, that all changes and your social life comes almost to a halt, especially in the evening and the invites get less and less. So, again, I ask, who feels that most? The carers.
Believe me, nobody is to blame for this because it a human reaction when these things happen, but when was the last time you rang a friend’s wife or husband, who you know has dementia?
When was the last time you asked them how things are and, more importantly, when was the last time you asked them out or round to your house? You could even ask them to come during the day?
Ask them to the cinema if they can get someone to be a part time carer for a few hours, or even better, hold a party a little earlier to accommodate your friends who you have not seen for years.
It really isn’t that hard and will make such a difference to those who need a little break as well
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