Carers Week 2020: The challenges of selfless caring for elderly parents
On behalf of Carers Week charities, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:
“With as many as one in six adults in the UK now taking on an unpaid caring role it is high time our society recognises and values the crucial support they provide.
“Many unpaid carers struggle alone without support. If we are to combat the loneliness epidemic facing them it is imperative that everyone – Government, employers, health and care professionals, schools and universities, and each of us individually – plays a role putting carers in touch with practical and financial help.
“Carers need to feel they are valued, understood and connected to their community”
The loneliness is something many will recognise as they are struggling to lend support to those that need care: Whether it be elderly parents who are self-isolating and need regular supplies of provisions delivered in a safe and secure way to minimise risk of infection; or maintaining reassuring contact for those people in our society who are more vulnerable and are both isolated and, sometimes, confused by the situation.
The concept of “make caring visible” in a very literal way immediately reminded me of an article sent to me by a friend of mine who is the mother of a former client. Her son (Louis) was severely brain damaged as a result of neonatal meningitis and needs a full time dedicated carer. He resides in a learning disability unit and was struggling to understand why, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, he could not see his mum. Rather than paraphrase , I urge you to read the article about Louis as published in the Strathearn Herald.
I am filled with admiration as I read how my friend describes the path that she had to navigate down, at a distance, with Louis to make her son understand the situation. I am also struck by how the use of technology and some ingenious lateral thinking meant she was able to reassure her son. She found a way to make sense of the lockdown for him and is relieved that during their FaceTime chats he is now smiling and ultimately her message is positive:
“I do feel sure that out of this lockdown there will be silver linings – lots of future laughter and ways of integrating sons and daughters with complex disabilities like Louis into our caring communities.”
She has always fought for Louis and will never stop being his champion. Technology has made her visible to him even during this lockdown and it is to be celebrated that this has helped him make sense of this uniquely stressful situation.
So many people at this time are taking on carer roles without even acknowledging to themselves that that is what they are doing. They give their time and devotion without any expectation of being acknowledged. Throughout Carers Week and beyond, we should all acknowledge the multifaceted challenges and sacrifices of carers and their ingenious ways of coping through the coronavirus crisis. By sharing our thoughts and stories here we hope, at KN, to achieve our aim of making caring visible, whether by FaceTime or otherwise!
To find out more about Carers Week 2020 and how you can take part and help make caring visible, please see here.
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