Self-isolation & social distancing is nothing new to the caring role. I have been feeling totally isolated for over 10 years now &, if I thought that it was bad before, since the lockdown it has escalated beyond belief. Isolation is something that every carer feels on a daily basis; it’s your new best friend! My own self worth & mental health have declined as the weeks have passed. It’s getting harder as the weeks go by & sleep deprivation is my new companion.
How can I explain to someone living with dementia about Covid 19 when I don’t fully understand it myself? How to defend that they can’t go outside? How can I explain that their routine has changed (possibly forever)? How do I describe that there is a shortage in items that they are used to having on a daily basis? How do I convince them that their own children & grandchildren are not allowed to visit, but that they still love them deeply? What can I do about the fact that I can see the person deteriorate before my eyes & do nothing about it, but watch it happening – alone?
The caring role was thrust upon me with no consultation or choice. There was no handbook or instruction manual. I was very much left to my own devices, with little support. Any social care I have received, I have had to fight for! One of my main concerns throughout this current pandemic was/is who is caring for the carers? If I took sick, who was/is going to look after my mother in my absence while I have to self-isolate? How can I self-isolate when I live with someone experiencing dementia who would not understand? Whist the executive is currently planning a recovery plan, what is the recovery plan for carers who feel totally disconnected from the outside world? Who is going to be an advocate for the carer who society chooses to see as invisible?
The government knows that unpaid carers are saving billions, but what are they doing to protect them? – Nothing! If they are sick, who will look after their loved ones then? They can’t go into care homes as they were neglected & forgotten about too! What measures have been put in place for those living at home during this epidemic? What is being done to preserve the health & wellbeing of all carers?
There are many statements & buzz words about carers needing to look after their own mental health & wellbeing but, in my opinion, this is all just lip service. If anyone really did care, they would be doing something to address all these issues. But carers week will come & go, & NOTHING WILL HAVE CHANGED! Carers need urgent support & assistance too. We are on our knees as much as the economy. Please think about us, & not just during carers week!!