Jarrow dementia support worker would like to see more help for families caring for those with dementia
Survey reveals four out of five unpaid carers in the North East are taking on the bulk of caring responsibilities for people with dementia.
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A Dementia Support Worker from Jarrow who previously cared for her mother with the condition believes more help should be available to families after witnessing how hard it can be.
More than four out of five (83%) carers in the North East classed themselves as primary carers, taking on the majority of caring responsibilities for their loved one.
Spending on average more than four working days a week (34.8 hours) providing essential practical and emotional support, the impact of unpaid caring duties comes at a price, with a quarter going as far to say they feel they have lost their identity (26%).
Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging people to sign up to a Memory Walk, which sees thousands of people walk for, or in memory of, a loved one with dementia. Funds raised will go towards vital campaigning efforts and support services desperately needed by people who have been devastated by dementia, including carers.
Denise Ross, who is taking part in this year’s South Shields Memory Walk on Saturday, October 7, has witnessed the issues faced by carers from both sides – as a Dementia Support Worker and as a carer for her mum.
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Denise who lost her mum to dementia in August 2018, said she and sister Annette would visit her mum and dad three to four times a day as her condition deteriorated.
She said: “Caring for mum towards the end was really tough on dad, who is 93, because she needed to be watched 24/7.
“Me and Annette would be there three or four times a day, and it could be exhausting at times, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was a case of role reversal really – she looked after us, now it was our time to return the favour.
“She would light up just seeing our faces, and while we were there, dad got a much-needed break. His life changed dramatically after mum’s diagnosis. He used to love going into Jarrow but all of that he stopped because he didn’t want to leave her alone.”
Denise, who works at an Age UK day centre in South Shields, will take part in this year’s Memory Walk alongside her son Thomas, 13, sister Annette Harkus and Auntie Christine Lannigan.
She added: “As a Dementia Support Worker I come into contact with exhausted family members all the time – it’s right there on their faces.
“There definitely needs to be more support for family carers, so I can certainly relate to the survey’s findings."
Alzheimer’s Society is also calling on the Government to take clear action to introduce a sustainable funding model, which pools the risk of care costs to provide people living with dementia with easy and timely access to personalised care.
Alzheimer’s Society is also campaigning for better recognition of unpaid carers, coupled with improved dementia-specific support and breaks.
Alzheimer’s Society CEO, Kate Lee, said: “There are so many family members and friends providing care around-the-clock to keep their loved ones tethered to the world. This vital care can be incredibly rewarding but comes at a cost – often coping with changes to behaviour and carrying out daily tasks many of us take for granted.
“By signing up to one of our Memory Walks, we can continue to provide help and hope to everyone who has been devastated by dementia. We see thousands of people, all connected by similar experiences, coming together, which is always incredible to witness.”