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Define a Carer - Page 3 - Carers UK Forum

Define a Carer

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
to me a carer is someone who puts the needs of the caree first 24/7 i seem to be awake most days for 20 to 22 hours feeding,changing.cleanning,it never stops some times i dont leave the house because im too tired,then when you think why am i doing this why am i putting myself through all the heartache something wonderful happens and my son smiles at me then you know why
When someone says to you, "do you work"? We say "no, I care for my mum" :shock: why do we say that? :roll:
Interesting and though provoking question Hazel. I agree about love being a major factor but also think responsibility figures just as highly.
We have many here, the majority, that care through love but would we do it if responsibility were not in the equation? We also have carers who look after parents who have given their children a hell of a life, no love shown, and who have every reason in the world to not give a damn. They are belittled, berated and unloved - yet they still care. Is it love or, rightly or wrongly, the sense of responsibility? Our family so our responsibility?

I think it's practically impossible to actually define a carer, individual situations make it so. But I think the closest I can get is responsible - someone having a sense of responsibility towards the Caree. Whether that is on a par with the love we feel (I've cared for two, my daughter who I still care for at a distance, and my late mum) or it isn't, it is still the force that pushes so many to keep going. If they didn't have it, they wouldn't care and would simply walk away, regardless of what might happen to their Caree.
I am a carer. I am two people.
I speak for myself.... I speak for my son.
I think for myself.... I think for my son.
I act for myself.... I act for my son.
I dress myself.... I dress my son.
I clean for myself.... I clean for my son.
I cook for myself....I cook for my son.
I shop for myself..... I shop for my son.
My needs are met secondary.... My sons needs are met firstly.
Need I say more!
I think what Ladybird says is very relevant. The issue of 'responsibility' is key for me.

I'm in the unusual situation of my caree being my mother-in-law, not my mother. Sadly, my husband died of cancer some years ago, and her surviving son is in the USA, so not much he can do in practical terms, but he does support me - and is very grateful and appreciative!

I care for my MIL because, to be blunt, there is simply no one else to do so! The only 'alternative' would be to ship her out to the USA, and have her in a care home there (my BIL is divorced, and still working to earn a living, so couldn't give up everything to look after her now she has dementia.....)

It does, I think, make a very, very big difference that she is my MIL, because there are no 'heartstrings' to tug on. I am fond of her, she's been a very good 'hands off' MIL, but we were on excellent terms, but never really 'affectionate' towards each other, but perfectly companionable and we could spend comfortable time together, and both of us clearly made an effort to make the relationship work - indeed, I often 'mediated' between her and my husband (who get to loggerheads quickly - both have stubborn natures!).

BUT, when it comes to her state now, of complete emotional and practical dependence on me - I am the only person she 'wants' to be with, as I cosset her and pay attention, and look after her and entertain her etc etc etc (when I'm with her - she's now in a care home to save my sanity and give me my life back!) - I can't really reciprocate 'from the heart'.

I also know I'm quite 'screwed up' about her, because I look at her and think '91 y/o, completely helpless, full-on dementia, requires a whole team of people to keep going.....yet her son was dead at 55 leaving a widow and a teenage son....'......and that REALLY limits my sympathy for her situation.....

Sounds horrible of me, but there it is - she's still alive and in a sorry state, my husband is dead when no one wanted him to be and he had so, so much living yet to do.....

It will be interesting to see how I react when she does (eventually!) die - I am prepared to find I'm a lot more upset than I currently think I will be. (That said, if she lasts till 100 I may well be climbing the walls by then - I CAN'T bear the thought that I'd be 70 and she's STILL ALIVE!!!!) (I REALLY don't want to have that kind of responsibility still hanging over my head when I'm trying to have my OWN retirement and old age!!!!!!)

But there you go, things are as they are, and since I'm sort of 'religious' I have to accept that karma is karma, and there is some kind of 'purpose' to her still being here, in her sadly decaying state (and the 'karma' aspect may actually be that having her as my ongoing caree is part of MY karma!)(I'm expiating something, that's for sure!!!!)

Poor lady, and I know I sound horrible, and please be assured I do actually do my best for her - when I visit I take her out, and we go for drives, and cream teas, and I chat away to her and I do know she is my last link to a life that was severed from me when my husband died, so in that, yes, I do get something 'back' from her continued existence.

But 'not loving' one's caree does, most definitely, make a significant difference. 'Responsibility' becomes a lot, lot more of a factor.
It's strange that 'love' word. I care for my mother 24/7 now but have been managing most of her life for at least 10 years. The biggest problem then was macular degeneration. She told me all the time she couldn't see a thing. So gradually everything became my duty. She now tells me she could see fairly well 10 years ago, the beginnings of dementia are now confirming what I always suspected. She could see a lot more than she let on (she was still putting on make-up last year) I just thought she was good at it (that's what she told me). Call it karma if you will, but 2 major retinal bleed later and she is now completely blind. The biggest problem though is the parkinsons, when she was first diagnosed she told my sister over the phone, my sister said she was quite cheerful, almost exited. Mum has always defined herself by her illnesses. To me, being a carer in this situation is like being in prison but not knowing how long your sentence will be. When I started the final part of this journey I said I'll do it for 2 years. I think I need to remember that figure. 3 months down 21 to go. Oh, b..... she wants to wee , again, it's only been 20 minutes. I'm almost looking forward to her becoming incontinent Lol.
Sharron, it is indeed, the indeterminacy of the prison sentence that is so difficult to endure. I guess, with elder caring, one might say that no one lives beyond, say 105 (though I suspect that final age is rising all the time as medicine improves.....)(deep irony!), so that sets some kind of maximum term.

But what I resent so, so much is how that increased longevity eats into my generation's own retirement time.

I'm fortunate now not to be 'sandwich generation' at least, as my son is now pretty independent at college, but I'm facing my own retirement now I've turned sixty, and to me there's something profoundly 'wrong' with having yet older people 'still hanging around' when I'm the one that's got old!!!!!!

A friend of mine has a mother of 83 whose own mother lived till 103.....

It isn't just about the 'burden' of providing care, to my mind, it's actually that there are 'two generations of old people' alive simultaneously. I find that 'wrong' at a profound level somehow! Maybe it's me that's weird. It's as if someone else is still 'hogging centre stage' of being 'the oldest generation in the family' when I want to move into that space, but can't because the previous generation is still there queening it!!

Really weird of me I know, but there it is.

PS - I always felt sorry for the Queen, having the Queen Mum 'hanging on' for so, so long, even though the Queen obviously didn't have to do any actual caring - but the 'emotional care was still there, and just the idea of being as old as the queen and still having a mum 'looking over your shoulder' the whole time would have driven me bonkers!
No, Jenny, you are definitely not weird, just honest and many of us feel the same. My amazing Dad died at 66 after a year of fighting cancer. My Mum, who had been 'ill' all her life is now truly ill, but could last for years yet. I mentioned that I worked in care before my 'sentence' started (sorry, I'm really not that bitter) but have seen so many come in for end of life care who are still there five years later. I doubt our generation will be as healthy. Many of the women never had to juggle kids and work and the stresses of all that that brought with it. He asked me on his death bed to come home and look after Mum. I'm the youngest, had 2 small kids and was in an abusive relationship and I really believe he thought Mum would help me financially. I knew I'd made a mistake when she moaned about picking me and these two confused little kids up from the bus station a mile away and couldn't understand why I didn't have money for a taxi! So yes the Love thing is weird maybe I'm just waiting until she says thank you one day and actually means it
Oh, Sharon, she'll never say thank you, will she? You've taken over from the role your dad played, and to be grim about it, maybe her generation of women were raised to be 'helpless' and always to have 'someone else' to fuss over them, etc etc. My friend with the mum whose own mother was still alive at 103, said her grandmother had never lifted a finger all her life - there was always 'someone else' to do everythign for her.

Women who were treated as fragile, and porcelain, etc etc, and 'helpless' and all they had to do was waft around looking pretty.....

Inside their heads they truly believe, because they were taught to believe, that they 'deserve' to have someone look after them. It might be allied to a self-doubt about their own capabilities, but I suspect it's far more a sense of 'entitlement'.

(That said, my MIL is nothing like that -she was an extremely capable woman, who ran her own life, did what she wanted, and never needed anyone to do anythign for her until her dementia got a grip of her two years ago. She'd be truly shocked and appalled if her 'old self' could see her now.)
Sorry I seem to have gone off topic here. Thanks though, Jenny, yet again. You've helped ease my guilt about the occasional unkind thoughts that creep in about my Mum's personality. So define a carer.....a big human shaped pile of guilt.