*This post is based on my mum’s experience of being a carer to her mum.
A Little Bit of History
It has been two years since my nan passed away from Alzheimer’s, and it is still something that I struggle with today. When my nan was alive, my mum made the ultimate sacrifice and gave up her job to become a full-time carer.
Looking after my son, I have struggled to find flexible work to fit around my caring role. Because of this, I have changed jobs a few times over the years. Initially, I used to work unsociable hours and had to rely on my mum to do the school run and look after my son while I was working. My mum was what you call a sandwich carer.
I asked my mum a few questions about her experiences of being a carer:
- What was the hardest thing about juggling work and being an unpaid carer?
I was worrying all the time as to mum’s whereabouts, as she would go missing and I would get phone calls at work from carers to say she was not at home.
- What made you decide to give up work to become a full-time carer?
My mum’s health was deteriorating quite fast.
- What was your biggest struggle while looking after your mum and my son when I had to work?
I was in my mid-50’s, so it was like going back to my mid-20’s. It felt like looking after two small children, so I had no energy and constantly felt tired.
- What support do you wish you would have received?
Knowing about respite care as I was never told about that until I had a breakdown. I was finally given one week of respite. Four days into my respite, I got a call from the care home to say come and get her. They couldn’t cope with her. She was being a danger to herself and to other service users.
- What support did you get during your mum’s end of life care and were you offered any bereavement support once she had passed away?
No support was given to me, but I had done most things without the help I was supposed to have. I was left feeling down and a bit angry.
- While caring, what helped you stay connected with other people?
Having a good set of friends who were worried about my health and wellbeing. They all kept in contact with me. Also, on Monday nights, I got to play darts, socializing with a larger group of friends.