A Personal Story: Knowing when more care-support is needed
by Kirsty Boden
My grandfather suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most common types of dementia. As the years have gone on he has required increased levels of support to carry out all his daily activities, because the symptoms have become increasingly severe and more parts of the brain are affected.
I think until you experience first-hand what it is like to constantly have to put someone else’s needs before your own, it is impossible to truly understand the impact that being a full-time carer has on your life, as well as your own health and well-being. What people fail to realize is that being a carer is a full time job and more often than not, one that is thrust upon us unexpectedly. Regardless of whether we feel prepared enough, the fact is that you have to accept the situation for what it is, as the only alternative is usually to have your loved one put into full-time care.
Enter my grandmother; a 75 year-old woman who has been working nose to the grindstone since the premature age of fourteen in order to support her family. She also ran her own thriving business single-handedly for over 30 years until her recent retirement – one would think that she of all people has earned a well-deserved break. Unfortunately this isn’t the case; her husband’s deteriorating health was one of the main reasons she was forced to give up her much loved career so as to dedicate her time to looking after him. As the disease progressed, more and more of her time was devoted to caring duties.
Many people are forced to give up their dream career in order to become a full-time carer for a close friend or family member who can no longer cope by themselves. I have the utmost respect for these people, certainly if they are any reflection of my grandmother. I honestly don’t know how she manages; at 75 she is no spring chicken, and yet every day she demonstrates such strength and bravery that I can’t help but be in awe of her.
For a long time, my grandmother was reluctant to seek care support. Although she insisted she was managing fine by herself, you could see the toll it was taking on her health, both physical and mental. And no wonder, because she must have been exhausted – I know I would be if I was up and about working tirelessly for 20 hours or more a day. On the rare occasion my grandfather managed to make it through the night without disturbing her, she would often lay awake tossing and turning, expecting him to call out for help any minute. I knew that if she carried on the way she was then her health would begin to suffer as well – Carers UK reveals that those who provide high levels of care are more than twice as likely to suffer from poor health compared to people without caring responsibilities.
The turning point for us came earlier this year, when a nasty fall resulted in my grandfather breaking his wrist and becoming hospital bound for a month. Unfortunately, this was the wake-up call my grandmother needed. Leaving him in the capable hands of the nurses for those few weeks did her the world of good, and she came to the realization that accepting help from others was not the worst idea in the world. Seeing him adapt so well to hospital life in the care of the nurses gave my grandmother the reassurance she needed to accept care assistance when he went back home.
On our hunt for a suitable care service we stumbled across Caremark, an established home care provider which appeared to offer the ‘personalized’ approach we were looking for. There is increasing demand for this kind of technique which allows everything to be planned around your individual requirements. I feel that this is a far more pleasant (and affordable) alternative to living in residential care or a nursing home full-time.
What I really like about this company is that they encourage independent living, encouraging the individual to work with them rather than doing everything for them. We found that this approach has really benefited my grandfather as it has given him a sense of purpose and well-being as well as preventing him from becoming too languid. He has daily visits from a nurse to help him up out of bed and dressed, and again in the evening to get him bathed, undressed and back into bed.
Implementation of these simple regimes has made the world of difference to both my grandparents. My grandmother has finally relieved some of the stress from her shoulders and now has more time to care for herself, and my grandfather has showed remarkable progress by managing to sleep right through most nights. This has resulted in him being more energetic and steady on his feet once again.
If you are a carer and can relate to this article, I strongly recommend that you look into home care support in your area. We chose Caremark with no limit to the type of assistance they can offer, and you can receive as much or as little help as you wish according to your individual needs if you find a good Home Care Support in your area as well.
Kirsty Boden is a keen blogger and social media enthusiast, and enjoys creating quality pieces of engaging content for her followers. Whether it be on behalf of herself or a client, Kirsty enjoys sharing her personal experiences and has a diverse span of interests including technology, food, health, fitness, fashion and the arts. Twitter @littlebearson