Welcome to the second of my seven ‘mini’ blogs for UK Carers Week 2014.
As regular readers of this blog know, I cared for my father for 19 years during his vascular dementia. For the majority of that time, however, I never considered myself a carer – just a daughter looking after her dad. As I said in my G8 Dementia Summit film, “You become a carer, but you don’t realise you’ve become a carer.”
For UK Carers Week 2014, I want to focus on questions carers often ask me, and indeed many questions I frequently asked myself during my father’s dementia.
Day 2 – Is it ok to ask for help?
In my first blog post for Carers Week 2014 I touched on the isolation carers often feel. With this in mind, many carers don’t feel able to ask for help. This can be for a variety of reasons – they may feel ashamed that they need help or can’t cope, they may be frightened of the consequences of asking for help, perhaps fearing that their loved one might be ‘taken away’, or they may simply not realise that they need help until it’s too late.
As a country we don’t routinely offer help to carers. People fall into a caring role and are generally expected to just get on with it. Some proactive health and social care professionals might offer help without it being asked for, but generally it will take a crisis for help to be forthcoming, and even then it may not be.
Defining ‘help’ is difficult, and will mean many different things to different people. I could mean training in certain aspects of caring, particularly around personal care, operating equipment, administering medications or moving and handling. It may mean a chat with a professional to understand changes in the person being cared for or the likely progression of an illness or disease. It may mean practical advice on housing, finances or future planning. Or it may just be someone who is prepared to listen and be a shoulder to cry on when it all gets too much.
Being a carer is complex and the needs of each carer will be different. Some people require a lot more support than others, but both should be equal in the way we respond. Kindness, compassion, information, help and advice should never be rationed.
D4Dementia: ‘Caring for carers’
D4Dementia: ‘Be inspired, be very inspired’
D4Dementia: ‘The carer’s job description’
Dementia Action Alliance Carers’ Call to Action: https://nationaldementiaaction.org.uk/campaigns/carers-call-to-action/
Carers UK: http://www.carersuk.org/
Carers Trust: http://www.carers.org/
Carers Week: http://www.carersweek.org/
Next post on 11 June 2014.