I've never thought of myself as a carer but when my dad was discharged from hospital care, after choosing to spend the last months of his life at home, he was cared for by myself and our family as we were the people that were there day in, day out. I'm one of five children, and three siblings already lived close by, but my sister and I moved home to be there too.
This will be the fifth Christmas that Mary has had to share with dementia. The first Christmas was the one where she couldn't remember whether she had bought enough snacks for everyone and ended up with six family packs of peanuts. Then she forgot to turn the oven on, so dinner was four hours late...
They don't tell you about the friends she's had for years who gradually stop coming to visit because they 'hate seeing her like that'. I'm pretty sure she hates being 'like that' too, but she could really do with a friend. They'll all be at her funeral though, because that's what friends are for, isn't it?
This week signals the end of the Christmas holidays and the return to school. I love having my children home for the holidays but I absolutely dread the return to school. For my youngest son who is on the autistic spectrum this total change in routine is very upsetting for him and you can visibly see his anxiety levels rising.
I have always been lucky when I needed help though. When I was a child my Mother was always there for me, and when I was very ill as a teenager she got me through a period that was one of the darkest imaginable. That is lucky enough, but to then find a partner who equally cares for me is like winning the lottery every weekend.
I would define a personal assistant as someone independent directly employed by a person who is capable of directing them and requires care and/or support tasks to be performed...The person has to be employed rather than self-employed, which has been a bone of contention between myself and the government who believes it does not matter how people are employed.
Let's be brutally honest; becoming a caregiver is without doubt a job nobody in their right mind asks for, wants or expects. Suddenly a person can find themselves in the position of having to take care of an ageing parent or spouse. The hours are long; constant tiresome challenges, no vacation, it is a 24/7 job.