Advice for Carers
This section is for those family members or friends who find themselves unexpectedly caring for someone with dementia. A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. Carers don’t choose to become carers: it just happens when a diagnosis of dementia means someone will need to be supported for their remaining years.
How does caring affect your life?
For many people caring comes unexpectedly and in a few short months your life can be turned upside down. Some people are caring round the clock, 24 hours a day. How caring affects you depends on how much you are doing, what else is going on in your life and to some extent what kind of a person you are.
Caring can be a rich source of satisfaction in people's lives. It can be life-affirming. It can help deepen and strengthen relationships. It can teach you a multitude of skills and help you realise potential you never thought you had.
But without the right support caring can have a negative outcome. Research has shown that becoming a carer can have many impacts on a person's life. When caring is intensive and unsupported you can struggle to stay healthy and maintain your relationships with friends and family. Other effects can include social isolation and poor health through stress and physical injury and worry over financial costs.
Who becomes a carer?
Carers come from all walks of life. According to a 2001 census around six million people in the UK provide care on an unpaid basis for a relative, friend or neighbour in need of support due to old age, disability, frailty or illness. The population of carers is dynamic: at least a third of all people will fulfil a caring role at some point in their lives. At least half of all carers are in full or part time employment and some care for more than one person. Carers save the UK economy an estimated £87bn a year, one of the key factors prompting Government policy to support carers.
What does caring for someone with dementia involve?
When people need help with their day-to-day living they often turn to their family and friends. Looking after each other is something that we do. Dependent on the dementia, carers will help with personal things like getting someone washed and dressed, administering their medication, taking control of running the household and finances.
It is important to maintain the independence of and enhance the quality of life for both the carer and the person with dementia. It will encourage them to concentrate on the things that can be done rather than the those which have been lost.
How can RICE help?
Every person with dementia who attends the memory Clinic is asked to bring a carer, usually a family member or good friend. During the consultation the carer will have individual time with the doctor so they can put their point of view.
The RICE nursing team are also available to discuss the situation and to give advice on the many support organisations available for carers.
We have an Information Area in the Day Room with many leaflets promoting local services and a range of books covering all aspects of support.
Three times a year we run our Carers Courses where we provide support to help deal with the emotional and physical pressures that come with being a carer for someone with dementia. We explain about dementia and suggest ways to cope with what may lay ahead. Professional advice on legal matters and information on local services is given. Participation is free. Read more about the course in Our Services – Carers Course.
How can I find out more?
There are some excellent sevices for carers in the B&NES area. The following links will take you to carers organisations and advice sections of demetia websites.