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Caring for a family member

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

Caring for a family member or someone very close to you is one of the toughest things we can do however we do not realise it. We do it out of the love and respect we have for that person and put them first, no thought for ourselves and the impact it will have on our lives.

Travelling a 60 mile round trip four to five time a week, working full time, having a young baby and three other children and a husband is hard work but I did this for the love of my grandad who needed care.

My mother who, although lived much closer, has mental health issues so could not care for him when he needed help. Other family members lived miles and miles away. His care came down to me. Not that I complained, he was my grandfather, my only grandfather. He had physical health conditions which meant he was no longer able to go outside, clean his house, go shopping and other things we take for granted. He had full mental capacity which made his situation so much worse as he knew what he wanted but could not do things for himself, he needed support.

He was a very proud man, an East Ender where the man of the house earnt the money and the wife looked after the house. When my Nan passed away his world changed and he adapted but when his world changed again, because of his health, it was completely upside down. He lost his sight due to glaucoma among other things.

I would ring him daily to make sure he was ok and have a chat about what was going on with us as a family as he loved to hear what the children were up to. I would take down his shopping list over the phone making sure he had enough meals that he would be able to microwave as he knew where all the buttons were. I would go and his shopping and then drive 30 miles often with the children with me to deliver his shopping. While I would be at his house, I would give it a good clean, do his washing, change his bedding and once a month I would cut his hair. I would listen to him moan about what was on the news and who had done what but that was all a part of him. I would then drive the 30 miles back home to our family routine. He also had hospital and doctor appointments where he would need escorting, I would book days off to make sure I could take him. I did this same routine for a few years.

When he passed away, I realised how exhausted I was. I saw how much time this had taken me every week, not that I begrudged it for one moment. I also saw what a toll it had taken on my own family, everything centred on when I would visit my grandad. It never once occurred to me that maybe a care agency could have given some relief as I was so focused on him and what he needed but looking back it would have helped so much. Just to have someone else do all the “hard work” so that when I visited, I could spend quality time with him. I had not realised that being a carer for my family member had completely taken over everything and I had no time left for me and my family. I had no real quality time left for him as his visits were all based around jobs and chores.

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