According to Carers UK, 1 in 8 adults are carers. Taking care of someone who is ill, elderly or disabled is no easy job. Many do it while they continue with their careers, often struck with mental and physical illnesses themselves.
I know first hand how hard being a carer is. My dad suffered with Dementia for the last 7 years of his life. He was diagnosed about a month after I had moved to the USA to study for my MBA.
Hit hard by the fact that the most important man in my life had a terminal illness, my first reaction was to head back to London and be there for him. Mum thanked me but told me “no”. She would be OK. And she was. She soldiered on for 5 years, allowing me to continue my wonderful life adventure.
I would call Mum often and send support in whatever way I could. Mum and Dad came to visit me in Atlanta and I would come home to be with them whenever I could. But the time difference and only being able to talk over the phone wasn’t cutting it for me. I could tell it was getting harder for Mum to cope. When I returned to the UK if felt like the right time.
Back in London, I had no clue how hard it would be supporting Mum and Dad – during these final 2 years of his life. It was stressful, upsetting, confusing, demanding. No fun. At all. I was given the advice – many, many times – that I really needed to look after Mum. The toll of being a carer is brutal and I needed to make sure nothing happened to her.
She had to be taught how to lift him and a variety of techniques to care for a very tall grown man as you would a young toddler. Mum was offered respite care for Dad towards the end. Just to give her a break. She didn’t enjoy it and felt they didn’t take care of him the way she did.
Seeing the devotion Mum displayed was what struck me most. I now wanted a relationship that would last decades just like theirs! That no matter how it ended, we were together and dedicated to each other. Thank you Mum and Dad for teaching me what it really means to care.
I was delighted to be able to help Carers Lewisham with a new website. To give them a platform that could effectively display the valuable work that they do in the community and help with their fundraising efforts. Read more about the redesign here. You can donate to Carers Lewisham here.