I’m going to have a bit of a moan in today’s blog, about our own crisis in care, since it’s been all over the news this last couple of weeks.
As I watched the news the other day, I saw a young woman who, I believe, is on this weeks Panorama programme, talking about the help they get for caring for elderly parents, or not, as is often the case. Of course my ears pricked up, as me and my family had been in exactly the same place that she and many others have found themselves in. I haven’t watched it yet, but I have recorded it.
She’s caring for her elderly mother who suffers from dementia and finds the help that she gets from her local authorities to care for her is bordering on dreadful. Unless you’ve walked in a person’s shoes who’s gone through this kind of time and, through no fault of their own, become victims of illnesses and old age, you can’t really understand what it’s like. Me and my family were in this position for many years when my mum became infirm and in need of more and more help.
My Crisis in Care
My dad died many years before my mum, and it was like a light went out in her at the same time. She never got over him dying and as we lived quite near to her, we became her carers. First it was emotional care as she literally handed responsibility for her life over to us, then increasingly it became daily care for all her practical needs.
At the ripe old age of 88 she broke her hip and was in hospital for quite a long time. When she came out she was a totally different person. She just seemed to hand herself over to me completely, as if to say ‘I’m yours look after me’. And look after her we did.
Of course like anyone else would, we had social services in to get the appliances to adapt her home to make it safer for her. The woman who came to see us said that we were at a disadvantage as we lived near her and would be expected to do everything for her. That if I’d worked, or lived away, she would get far more help, and how right she was (bear in mind that at this point I was in my late 50’s). Instead it became our very own crisis in care.
We got nothing at all. There was no help from doctors, social workers, clinics you name it, we were well and truly left to it. We had to fight for every little thing that she needed. On top of that, I was getting older and had a lot of medical problems of my own.
She developed dementia and was totally disabled with arthritis, to the point that even getting her to the toilet was awful, with Kevin often carrying her there! Her bed was brought into the living room and lifted up on blocks so she didn’t have to bend to it. Plus of course the grab rail to help her to get in and out. Her world became the journey from the bed to the chair and back – even going into the kitchen became a physical struggle.
We cleaned, shopped, gardened, did everything to run her house, as well as running my own home and everything else I did. Lifting her in and out of a bath was one of many heavy jobs I had to do.
Mental and Physical Care
The TV, which had always been her companion, became a mystery because she couldn’t remember how to turn the channels over. So we’d put it on for her and it got turned off at bedtime.
Trying to reassure her that I wasn’t going to abandon her or put her in care (which I would never have done) was a full time, but useless task. She didn’t even know she was at home, which totally distressed her. Everytime any of the family saw her we went into a loop of where she was and that she lived there.
The sheer demanding job of being with her just about all the time physically brought me to my knees, and how I didn’t have a heart attack or stroke I’ll never know. The doctors didn’t want to know, when Jane begged for help because she thought I was going to drop dead, our GP just shrugged his shoulders. One district nurse said as I was by now turned sixty, that my plight wasn’t the only she heard. As she said, the elderly are looking after the old.
Same Old Crisis in Care
I could fill a million sheets of paper about what happened and didn’t happen with my mum, never mind writing a blog post. But it’s interesting to see that the situation is as bad now as it was when I was a full time carer about 15 years ago.
I received no money at all as a carer, and maybe because I was of the era when it was the norm to care for husbands, wives, children and parents, I didn’t expect it. It was a case of keeping her happy as much as I could, until she died in her own bed at 92 years old.
When it’s all over…
I was left physically and mentally shattered by this time. The sheer toll of physically and mentally looking after her had left me with a broken mind and body. I eventually went bang when I stopped the sheer hard work of having to be there and do things. I was ill for months. First, in bed literally unable to even move for a few months, then about 12 months slowly recovering, as my body and mind had burnt out.
I so feel for people like the young woman this morning and the thousands of carers who are in the position I was, but it seems to me that all these years later, nothing has changed at all. There weren’t ‘cut backs’ to blame then for the lack of help from the authorities. What the answer is I don’t know, but something needs doing before other carers end up in the pickle I did when it was all over.
Changing the subject…
It was quite a shock to learn that Family Bakery were robbed the other day. Unless I’m wrong, the thieves seem to have used the front door to remove a quite large safe into a waiting van.
Surely someone must have known all about the safe, where it was, what was in it and all the rest to be able to move it like they did. I’d also guess that it took more than one person to do this and how did they know where it was and all about it? Smells fishy to me.
I go in there a lot to buy things over the counter and to use the café and I wouldn’t have had a clue where to look for a safe as obviously, customers don’t get to see the offices, so how did they?
We were surprised to hear that they hadn’t gone round the back of the shop, unless we have been misinformed, as there are CCTV cameras on the high street along with flats over the shops. I’m surprised no one heard all this, especially the van coming and going at that time of night, but let’s hope they catch them. I wouldn’t have thought this was kids as it would have needed planning, but whoever it is they want catching and stopping from carrying on.
While you’re here…
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