When the Carer Needs Care

Today, October 6th marks the first ever European Carers Day. Mary Devereux shares her thoughts on why carers need more care.

In Ireland over 350,000 family carers provide care in the home for loved ones. These are just the official numbers, what about all the unpaid carers in homes up and down the country?

No two carers are the same just like any illness, the experience is different for everyone. There is not a book of rules to follow, yes there are general guidelines but there is also a lot of love, care, sweat and tears all thrown in for good measure. 

In a recent study, Professor Brendan Kelly’s research showed, caring for a family member elderly or ill is the number one cause for individuals to suffer with mental and physical health issues. This is scary because who looks after the carer?

Carers are so busy running a home, keeping a job and worrying about everyone and everything but them. Many homes would fall into this category; possibly they are on the hamster’s wheel; all getting on with life, trying to protect each other, all denying that they are exhausted and constantly saying they don’t mind doing the things they have to do. Should they have to do it all? If some thing was to happen to them would care for them, in all honestly, they would just carry on!

When I found out I had PPMS the first thing I said nine years ago to my husband was, “YOU will never be my carer”. But it just happened by default

My better half, he never stops; he keeps going, looking after everyone but himself. But of course like my husband all carers would deny this. But that’s not right they need to be taken care of too.

Caring is a common experience, it can feel lonely and difficult. As well as the sheer physical work, it is emotional. For others, it can be exhausting and stressful. Before COVID services were inadequate, more care packages, day services, respite care need to be put in place.  Mental Health has never been as important during this strange and difficult time we now find ourselves living in. Its important to remember that’s it is ok if it is all getting too much for you and when you are feeling overwhelmed  not to keep these feelings bottled up. Tell someone how you feel and keep making time for your friends and family. Take the offer of help; it is not a sign of weakness. Look for a support group no matter how much you don’t want to give it a go you will meet lots of people in the same position as you.

It should not have taken a pandemic to make people think about carers. They shouldn’t have to work so hard for so little. They are one of our front liners who need better support systems in place. We need to care for our carers better.