As a carer for her gran, Steph Greaves recognises that it's easy to burn out from the responsibility. Although proud to repay a lifetime of her gran's kindness, Steph believes it is important for carers to be kind to themselves as well.
Sadly, my gran was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s Disease in 2017. Like many others we noticed the changes in her before this point.
The odd misunderstanding of a word, phrase or forgetting the name of an animal. The love for cooking slowly deteriorating, changing into convenience over taste. The confused look as she glanced off, as if to enter a world where only she existed, before snapping back to reality.
These changes in behaviour were subtle, but they were there. I knew my gran was changing and I wanted, more than anything, to understand what was happening to her.
Me and my gran regularly catch up. We have always been close. I’d go and stay over and we’d have dinner together after my grandpa passed away.
We’d laugh over silly TV shows and talk about all that was going on in the world. It makes me smile inside and out when I think of all the times we giggled about silly things and how the words of wisdom Gran spoke made me relax and feel at ease.
My gran is such a kind and caring person. She always has an ear to lend and knows exactly the right thing to say.
Kindness in caring
Alzheimer’s disease is cruel. It’s hard on those that live with it and hard on those that care. It’s sometimes a thankless job.
Conversations are quickly forgotten. Help and tasks aren’t always remembered. Lovely memories fade as fast as you make them. Confusion and vagueness plague our loved ones minds.
‘I know I’m not alone as a carer, because there are thousands of us out there.’
My gran has always been there for me, listened to my problems and been such a fantastic friend over the years. I’m glad I am able to repay her kindness. I feel lucky that I live close enough to do so and utterly thankful for the humbleness that it brings.
Rules to protect the vulnerable in homes often meant people suffered from loneliness. A case of no one in and no one out.
My gran got worse. The deterioration was so sad. Not being able to have visitors really impacted her mentally and the Alzheimer’s seemed to take a stronger grip.
‘I absolutely adore her… and it broke my heart.’
I read many articles and researched ways I could be of help. I found out that as an official carer, my gran would be able to see me and I would see her smile again.
I love this picture of Gran, she looks so beautiful and happy.
Be kind to yourself
Some days are harder than others. It’s not how I envisioned my career to go this last year, but seeing Gran light up when I walk in the room makes it every bit worth it! A kind and caring woman, she still has lots of love and laughter to give to the world.
To give something back to myself I have been working hard towards my Chartered Marketer status and continuing with my professional development.
‘It’s important not to lose who you are – caring for yourself helps you to care for others.’
So on a day such as World Kindness Day, remember to be kind to yourself and be proud of what you are doing. Your love is worth more than anything else in this world.
Many of us at some stage will be carers for our loved ones, but please look after your mental health – it’s too easy to burn out.
Looking after yourself as a carer
Supporting a person with dementia can be positive and rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Read our guide to looking after your own wellbeing as a carer.