Older Carers: the twinkle in her eyes

Note: This blog post coincides with an older carers survey that is running until 31 March 2010. If you are aged 60+ and are an unpaid carer for a loved one, we would really appreciate your response to the survey.

There are some people who you meet that stick in your head. A few years ago I was taking a supporter to our Carers’

Centre in Sandwell. It was the Centre’s 21st birthday party and Her Royal Highness Princess Anne was there to cut the cake.

I began talking to an elderly woman who was about the size of Tinkerbell in the film ‘Hook’. She seemed to sparkle like her too as her eyes twinkled and had a smile that never left her face. She was there with her husband who had just had two heart attacks, and they had cared for their daughter for fifty years since she was born with learning disabilities.

I looked at this woman in awe. I jokingly suggested that how could a woman her age have a daughter who was fifty?!?! She replied that it was her 80th birthday in a few weeks’ time that March.

Speaking to her and her husband, she told me the hardest thing was when her husband was rushed into hospital in the middle of the night and she had to decide whether she stayed with her daughter or get in the ambulance with her husband. The smile was still there when telling me all of this.

She wasn’t complaining, she was just explaining some of the issues she faced. She wasn’t annoyed or angry; I’m not even sure she felt that she needed support. I was standing there in awe of this 80 year old woman who had cared for her daughter for fifty years and was now caring for her husband but amidst this appeared to be the happiest little thing in the world. I was twice her height but felt a much smaller person.

She is not alone, there are lots of older carers out there who might not be asking for help but may certainly benefit from some. It would not surprise me that the woman’s own health would deteriorate because of the strain and that even if this did happen, she would still put her daughter and husband first without thinking of herself. Many carers put off addressing their own health because of their focus on others.

We want to know more about the issues facing older carers and what they think about their caring roles. We want to hear what your experiences are. You can let us know here or contact your local Carers’ Centre for a printed copy. And somebody has even donated Marks & Spencer vouchers worth £100 that will be given to a respondent drawn out of a hat.

I know I shouldn’t but I secretly hope that the woman I met a few years ago responds and is drawn out – it would be a very belated 80th birthday present that she truly deserves.


February 2, 2011 - Posted by | Carers movement, Carers Strategy | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. 🙂 Very touching Mr. Conochie

    Comment by Anokhi | February 10, 2011 | Reply

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