Gaye is a full-time carer to both her mother & father who are 95 and 98, respectively. During 2012, Gaye’s mother was diagnosed with a heart condition which required surgery and in the same year, her father suffered a heart attack, meaning Gaye suddenly needed to take on full time caring responsibilities for both her parents.
More often, we know caring is something that does not simply happen suddenly. Caring for loved ones often increases over a time as the care needs grow. But, for Gaye this sudden transition in 2012 meant her life as she knew it would change forever. She knew she needed to make big changes to make sure she could be there for both her Mum and Dad, including the impact it would have on her much-loved interior design business.
Gaye’s been a full-time unpaid carer for 9 years now, and we recently caught up with her as she marked her beloved Mum’s 95th birthday to ask about the impact caring has on her life.
Gaye tells us in her own words how caring during lockdown has taken its toll on both her physical and emotional wellbeing.
“I love caring for my parents” says Gaye, “However, in the last year Covid19, caring has taken its toll. My parents have needed increasingly more of my time, which has left me feeling exhausted and isolated. I have not been able to see my friends and lately, caring with Covid19 has felt a little like ‘prison’.”
Life caring during normal times can be a strain, but during lockdown, many more unpaid carers are experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation because of the need to self-isolate alongside ‘cared for’ loved ones.
Gaye goes on to say: “At the beginning of lockdown, there was a short time when the Crossroads Care home respite service was suspended, and I was having to self-isolate because both my parents were shielding. Luckily, I had a helping hand as a regular phone call from a volunteer at Crossroads who made me feel less alone, and they sent someone along to help with food shopping too”.
Gaye heard about the Crossroads carer respite breaks from a friend who had been helped by the charity and says, “Since receiving help, I cannot tell you how much simple acts of kindness mean to me and our family. I feel very lucky to benefit from such exceptional care for my parents. When Joanna and Maureen come from Crossroads to care for my parents, I feel can enjoy a much-needed break with confidence that my parents are in safe hands.”
Gaye went on to say: “Both carers are fabulous, they pull out all the stops to make sure Mum and Dad are not only cared for, but also take some enjoyment from the time spent with the carers who bring books which they know will interest my father; puzzles and games to enjoy too. Just knowing my parents feel fulfilled, helps me to enjoy time away from caring more. I feel Joanna and Maureen will always be firm family friends now.”
Caring allows Gaye time to have an all-important break away from caring for her parents twice a week, she knows it is her one chance to take care of herself so that she can keep strong and healthy to keep caring for longer. She says, “I go to Secrett’s, a local farm shop, to pick up my food essentials, along with a take-away coffee. Sometimes I visit another supermarket for a change or Waitrose for a shop and a coffee. It is such an incredible feeling to have peace of mind knowing that my parents are safe and receiving such exceptional care. I am looking ahead to a more hopeful time when I can enjoy my respite time in the community post Covid19, meet friends for a coffee or lunch, or if I am lucky, book a pedicure!