‘As carers, we must be kind to ourselves. Caring for yourself helps you to care for others’

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.

Steph takes a selfie outside with her gran

Our friendship

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.

Our dementia advisers are here for you.

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.

Steph's gran holding a baby

The impact of COVID-19

Coronavirus has been hard on Gran, like many others affected by this awful condition.

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.

Steph's gran wearing a light green cardigan

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. 

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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.

Read our guide

9 comments

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who deciedes when you have dementia is it a doctor how do they know what is the diferance to alzheimers .

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Hello John,

Thanks for your comment.

The first person to consult when somebody is worried about their memory is a GP. The person may then be referred to a specialist if appropriate.

We have some information on our website about assessments for dementia that you may find helpful: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/symptoms-and-diagnosis/dia…

When a person is given a diagnosis of dementia, they will usually also be told the type of dementia. We have some information here on the difference between Alzheimer's disease and dementia:
https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/difference-between-dementia-alzheime…

If you ever need any dementia information, advice or support, please call our Dementia Connect Support line. The number is 0333 150 3456, and you can read more details about the support line here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

I hope this helps, John.

Alzheimer's Society website team

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Can really relate to to this and yes we can forget about ourselves as carers as your whole world is all about dementia so well done to you Steph we must be kind to ourselves as well as our loved ones x

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Hi Steph, Firstly a lovily but sad sorry, but wonder how many MPs have read it !!!! they can spend money on new planes , railways and give nothing to the care home staff up and down the country who do an excellent job in care homes--my own mother sadly passed away in July 2016 and its very hard to get over and never will, but have seen myself how the illness affects people and their families and just wish i could turn the clock back to the way the family was but just have photos and memories which wont bring my dear mother back .

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what about people who have no carer and live on there own

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Hi Melvyn,

Thanks for your comment.

If you or somebody you know would like dementia advice or support, we'd strongly recommend speaking with one of our Dementia Advisers. You can call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456, or read more details – including opening hours – here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

We also have information on our website for people with dementia who are living alone. You can read our booklet online or order a free print copy here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/staying-independent/living-al…

If you're interested in finding support in your local area, you can search our Dementia Directory: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/find-support-near-you

I hope this is helpful, Melvyn. Please do call our support line for more support and advice.

All the best,

Alzheimer's Society website team

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Lovely words. So much of what you said about you and your Gran resonated with me with my Mum. Thank you

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Thank you for the lovely comment Beck, this is so nice to hear, sending love to you and your Mum. X

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Best and most genuine article on Alzheimer’s I’ve read. Well done Steph Greaves for all the hard work you do and great point that you need to look after yourself as well as others.

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