Carers are the unsung heroes and heroines of society and many care for people with dementia, a condition affecting 850 000
people in the UK. Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of progressive neurological disorders affecting the brain, of
which Alzheimer’s is the most common, and caring can be a tough job. But if carers are given information and support, it can
make life easier for them and the person they care for.
Barrow’s Prue Padmore is a volunteer at the Alzheimer’s Society, which runs courses for carers at various venues in Leicester city and Leicestershire. She has seen first-hand how they benefi t from the courses, as they learn more about the condition and how to manage it.
The Carers Information Support Programme (CrISP) is held once a week on Tuesday afternoons, over six weeks, for two and a half hours per session. Subjects covered include practical advice, like strategies for dealing with difficult behaviours, as well as legal issues, like drawing up powers of attorney and getting fi nances in order, accessing benefits and services, and looking after yourself. “Carers benefit from meeting others in the same situation and sharing practical tips,” says Prue, whose mother had Alzheimer’s. “The course is excellent and I love meeting the carers who are mostly lovely people trying to do their best. Dementia does not follow a set pattern – everyone’s experience is different.”
Alongside the course is an activity group for people with dementia, so if carers are unable to get go out on their own, they can take along the person they care for. Courses are free and the person being cared for must have had a diagnosis of dementia.
All you have to do is contact the Alzheimer’s Society and put your name down. You will then be advised of groups in your area.
The Alzheimer’s Society welcomes volunteers to help with CrISP courses and in other areas too. The society offers a range of local services, including Singing for the Brain, dementia cafes and befriending services, like Side by Side. Volunteers are needed for these services and others – and volunteering can be hugely rewarding. Phone the society to find out more. Call 0116 231 6921 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips for carers
- Look out for dementia support groups in your area and meet others in the same situation. Visit alzheimers.org. uk/dementia or phone the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122
- Involve others. See if other family members or friends can help out and give you a break. You can discuss this with them with or without a counsellor
- Take breaks. This might mean getting someone to stay with the person you care for while you meet up with a friend, have time to yourself or have a few days away. There are also formal schemes such as day or short-term residential care
- Look after yourself. Eat nutritious food, take exercise, get enough sleep and fi nd time to relax. This is not always easy and you may need to enlist help
- As the person’s dementia progresses and they need more assistance, consider getting help at home
The Alzheimer’s Society provides information on all this. They have a
comprehensive free handbook called
“Caring for the Person with Dementia”,
which you can order from their website
and there is a lot of information on alzheimers.org.uk.
You can also call
0300 222 1122.
The Alzheimer’s Society holds fund-raising Memory Walks around the country and one will be held in Abbey Park, Leicester on Sunday 30 September at 11am. There are two courses, 2km or 7km, suitable for all ages, pushchairs and wheelchairs. You need to register by 27 September. See www.memorywalk.org.uk or call 0300 330 5452.