Have you ever wondered who cares about the carers of the vulnerable in society?
“I’m just so tired; I’m scared I can’t look after him anymore.” A carer in her eighties told us. Her husband is living with dementia and heart problems.
Did you know that there are over 8,000 carers in the Cotswold community who look after a partner, family member or friend?
It is often difficult for carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities, but regular breaks are vital to allow carers to stay well themselves. Carers need to visit friends, go shopping, attend their own medical appointments, walk the dog, and some even use their respite breaks to go to bed and catch up on some much needed sleep!
Carers put their own needs last, this means that they are not taking care of themselves physically or mentally, increasing the risks to their own health and wellbeing. This includes increased risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression.
Carers also feel tremendous guilt. All too often we hear our carers tell us they can’t come to a health check or go for a coffee or have a short break because they feel guilty leaving their loved-one.
“I can’t go out and enjoy myself. It’s not fair, he can’t, I’d just feel guilty.” Cotswold Friends Carers Club member.
We can help our carers. They need our support to continue in their role.
Our Carer Respite Service provides a volunteer who will befriend the cared-for. If possible the volunteer will take them out if not, they can stay at home and take part in any activities or hobbies such as card games, gardening or craft. Some of our volunteers read to the person they befriend, this is especially helpful to those with sight loss or those living with dementia.
One of our volunteers gives the bedbound lady she visits a manicure, painting her nails and doing her hair, making this lady, once so proud of her appearance, to still feel attractive. This is something that her carer husband finds difficult to do himself but he knows this makes her feel so much better, as do his compliments when he returns. He has admitted to us that he looks forward to returning, to find her looking more like his wife.
So who cares for our carers? Our volunteers do, they support our carers with one to one respite visits, through our carers clubs, through our social events, our Friends Connect project. Our volunteers listen, they don’t judge, they just support. Our carers don’t want us to go in and make promises we can make it better, we can’t.
When our volunteers leave, their loved one still has the same problems they had before, but now they have a bit of the outside world back in their lives, the carer has a little bit of themselves back and both feel the support and friendship of some new friends.