Reflection on care with Home Instead

We all have it. The voice in our head that says, “you ought to be able to cope” and “everyone else can do it, so why can’t you”?  The longer you have been a carer, it seems, the easier it is to doubt our abilities, undermining our sense of self-worth. If this sounds familiar to you, then take a moment to pause and consider….

We have seen throughout the pandemic, the toll that caring for others takes on the people in the front line. It is on our screens daily, pictures of exhausted nurses, doctors and care workers in particular. But are we really any different? Those of us caring for loved ones with conditions that make them vulnerable, needy, anxious, or simply hard to care for, know the personal cost of keeping them safe and well - especially during the extended lockdown.

Most of us have learnt to grow a carapace of capability, a face that we show to the rest of the world. Peel away the mask however and beneath can be someone who is fragile and weary, scared and resentful; but above all, self-critical. We tell ourselves that we have to go on, that there is no option and we just have to make the best of it. However, I invite you to shine a different light on the situation. We cannot feed others unless we have food in the cupboard; we cannot provide warmth unless we have access to power. We cannot be effective carers unless we have strong resources to draw on…..

My partner was diagnosed with dementia nine years ago. At first the changes were gradual and the additional responsibilities not too onerous, but in the last 18 months, his Alzheimer’s has become significantly worse. We knew that the journey would be long and get harder, but we made the most of every day. Looking back, I realise how important it was to appreciate the laughter, to focus on what we could do rather than what we could not.

But continuing to live each day to the full whilst caring for someone who cannot care for themselves, takes both physical and emotional energy and lots of it! I felt that I was running on empty. My friends and family were worried that I would buckle under the load. So, ensuring that we are in the right state mentally and physically is an essential part of being a carer - it is another form of PPE if you will. That is why I chose to use Home Instead - they provide support for my partner and myself to be in the best shape that we can be, to face whatever comes next.

The CAREGivers get him up, showered, dressed and breakfasted and then keep him company whilst I take time out. What do my partner and I value most about the Home Instead CAREGivers? They come into our home as caring friends and they respond to each of our needs as individuals, in the moment. They are thoughtful and proactive, as happy to give my partner personal support and mental stimulation as they are to relieve me of household jobs like washing the floor or doing the ironing.

During lockdown, I decided to try the Couch to 5K programme to get fit and learning to run has been a complete revelation! I am in my early 70’s and have never been very sporty, so taking up running was a very different challenge. I followed the programme, running three times a week whilst the CAREGivers were with my partner. Now I can not only run 5K, but I aim to run 10K by my 72nd birthday next March. Knowing my partner is being cared for in his own home by professional people that I trust gives me peace of mind; the time and freedom to do what I need to be at my best for both of us. Having this “down time” is such a boost. I am much more relaxed and really can cope the rest of the time, enjoying life to the full again. Best of all, my critical voice is a lot quieter these days! So, thank you to the  Home Instead team - you have made a huge difference to the quality of our lives.

If you would like more information about the Dementia support and care we can provide please visit: