I have so much to share about caring, from a carer’s as well as a client’s point of view so I will try bite size chunks to begin with. I will start with the beginning of my own personal caring experience. I left my family and beautiful, warm and sunny South Africa for the soggy island of the United Kingdom three years ago. I had no idea of the roller coaster ride I was about to embark on, one which would forever change my world as I knew it. Sounds a bit dramatic I know. All I knew about Alzheimers was limited to my little visits with “Aunty Mary”. I attended a very intense one week course covering everything from ‘moving and handling’ to first aid, to how to deal with a person with dementia on a very practical day-to-day level. We had the opportunity to feed and be fed a meal which was so much more difficult that you can imagine. I found this training to be absolutely necessary to arm me with the necessary skills to begin my life as a 24 hour live-in carer. This was thanks to Corinium Care in Nailsworth which is the only care agency I have had the pleasure to deal with and I believe to be one of the best. http://www.Coriniumcare.com While this training equipped me theoretically, nothing could have prepared me for what I would need to deal with for 22 hours a day for the next 4 months. Thankfully my darling old dear in the final stage of Dementia had a wonderful supportive family and I quickly came to realise that my task as her live-in carer would have been close to impossible without this support (more on this later). Dementia is a group of symptoms. Dementia isn’t a disease. It is a group of symptoms that affect mental tasks like memory and reasoning. Dementia can be caused by a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease. Other common causes of dementia are Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. All of which can be described as devastating and debilitating and the word “dis-ease” aptly describes the sufferer as well as all their loved ones as they journey into this frightening and so often mis-understood world of mental illness. Nobody should ever have to age without their dignity in tact, I feel so passionately about this. I believe that carer’s who have the correct training and support can offer an immeasurable service and make the world of difference to families who are struck by this frightening and often terribly upsetting mental illness. I have personally witnessed the amazing work Lorna Kirsten, Sue Vivian Smith and their team in Nelspruit (South Africa) do, especially in the rural areas where in addition to training, educating the community on this illness is so vital. I have come to realise that by the time family members realise that they need help and possibly moving their loved ones from everything they know and are familiar with, this frightening disease has gone too far and change is so terribly traumatic. The worst part of a carers day is early evening ‘Sundowning’ when confusion and agitation is more pronounced, witnessing a frightened little child begging to go home and wants her mommy is something I always find so very sad. Blogging is new to me so I hope to get better at it as I go along. Unfortunately I never kept a diary of my first three years as a carer so my intention is not to follow a timeline but to share my experiences as and when something comes to mind. No matter how difficult it seems at the time, maintaining a sense of humour is probably the single most important part of a carers life! Chat soon!