Becoming a Carer

"I probably came into caring as you did.  One minute I was living my life, the next I was enmeshed in the Alice in Wonderland World of social services, memory clinics, aids, appliances and assessments. Becoming a carer is like falling through the looking glass: we discover a whole new world, one in which we must believe six impossible things before breakfast"  - Marianne Talbot 

Becoming a carer can involve an enormous emotional upheaval, especially if the person you are caring for is your spouse. As well as the disruption to personal and professional life there are the new stresses of everyday life, a lack of emotional support from the person who has often been most able to provide it in the past and frustration at delays and bureaucracy from agencies which are meant to be there to help.

Everyone has a different experience but many people relate to these distinct stages of caring. 

  • Acute stage, where the role of 'carer' is new and the demands are high.  Support from relatives and friends is often forthcoming but due to the adjustments needed, stress levels are high.  The main need is often for information and advice.                              
  • Reality stage, which can be marked by feelings of anger, guilt, resentment and loneliness. Less help is available from family and friends and caring begins to affect their social and personal lives. At this stage counselling can be helpful.
  • Acceptance stage, where the carer accepts that their position won’t change unless they take charge. This is when carers may be more ready to ask for respite care, day care or other specialist services.

Finding support

  • Alzheimer's Support's Dementia Advisers can give help and support to carers in their own right, signpost to a wide variety of organisations that can help and supports carers to get the assessments and any financial support they are entitled to. They can also recommend counsellors if that is something you feel might be helpful.

  • Our Training Course for Carers can be enormously helpful as a starting point, while our support groups can be invaluable in connecting carers to others who understand. 

  • Wiltshire Carers Together is a new partnership led by Age UK Wiltshire which offers a broad range of support to unpaid family carers, including activities, respite, advice, counselling, coaching, training and support (including peer-support). Alzheimer's Support is part of the partnership, along with Community First, Wessex Community Action, Wiltshire Service Users Network and Citizens Advice Wiltshire. 

  • Forward Carers provide digital support for carers in Wiltshire. It lists all the online events available to carers in Wiltshire and provides the Carer ID Card which enables unpaid carers to show their caring role when out and about and in heathcare settings. Click here to get your Wiltshire Carer ID card

  • Carer Support Wiltshire is a specialist organisation that campaigns for carers rights and offers recreational breaks for carers. It also works with GP practices and a range of businesses and employers in Wiltshire to help them become more carer-aware.

  • The Wiltshire Dementia Roadmap is an invaluable tool for finding out more about the informal, very practical support available in different locations.

Listen in

'It's all about love'
Wiltshire carer Jo Holloway talks to BBC Radio Wiltshire about caring for her mother Maureen.