A precious link in the chain of care

Bearsden Carer Joyce Baillie. Carer for Carers Week feature 2.6.11 Picture by Jamie Forbes
Bearsden Carer Joyce Baillie. Carer for Carers Week feature 2.6.11 Picture by Jamie Forbes

JOYCE BAILLIE’S 90-year-old mum has always been an independent and very capable lady - but when she was diagnosed with dementia three years ago her family started to notice that she wasn’t coping as well any more.

They grew increasingly worried as she had two falls while she was living alone and had to be taken into hospital both times.

While Joyce visited her regularly to check that she was OK and keep her company for a while, it became apparent that it would be better for everyone if her mum came to live with her and her husband, so she has recently moved in.

Joyce (63) said: “At first it was just the odd bit of forgetfulness then we realised she wasn’t managing with basic things such as cooking and cleaning.

“She can remember things from years ago, it’s just her short term memory which fails her.

“During the very cold winter two years ago she was confined to her house for months.

“I popped in to see her as often as I could to make sure she had eaten and that everything was running smoothly but I found it difficult to juggle everything, when my neighbour told me about Carers Link.

“The service they provide is excellent, if it hadn’t been for them I don’t think I would still be sane.

“I wanted to make sure that mum still had a good quality of life and take her out as much as possible but it was a lot to cope with.

“For a long time I wanted her to come and live with us but she was reluctant as she had looked after her own mother for 25 years and knew the huge impact it would have on us.

“She has accepted it now as she realises she needs to be looked after.

“One of the most difficult things to cope with was seeing my mum, who has always been my rock, all of sudden melting into molten lava.

“The role reversal is hard to come to terms with as she has always looked after me and now it’s my turn to care for her.

“It’s been really hard to watch her struggle - it saps all your energy.”

Carers Link contacted several organisations for Joyce including the social work department and the department for work and pensions to check that she was getting all the money she was entitled to including a carer’s allowance.

Joyce also discovered that her mother did not have to pay council tax.

Her mum now attends a club which is run by Alzheimer’s Society in Milngavie once a week from 10am until 3pm and a befriender from Crossroads comes every week to spend a few hours with her.

Joyce added: “I think there’s a real lack of information for people to get help and advice.

“Dementia is one of the cruellest illnesses it fills the sufferer with panic, bewilderment and a fear of the future, it’s a horrible thing to watch someone go through.

“It’s comforting to meet someone who understands what it’s like.

“Staff at Carers Link have a real empathy and do everything they can to help.”

Carers Link East Dunbartonshire, based in Milngavie, is dedicated to offering information, support and advocacy, advice and training opportunities.

Many children also care for family members and funding has recently been secured to develop a pilot project to support 16 to 25 year olds in the area.

For more information there is going to be a lunch in Milngavie Enterprise Centre on Tuesday (June 14).

Volunteers and staff will also be on hand for a chat at Stobhill Hospital on Wednesday (June 15). Phone Carers Link on 0800 975 2131 for more details or go to www.carerslink.org.uk