While most of us look forward to the summer holidays, it can be a particularly hard time for carers as so many services and clubs take a break. When the people we rely on for support take some well-deserved time off, it can mean that even more responsibility lands on the shoulders of those looking after loved ones.
It’s something I notice myself at this time of year. Many of you will know that my dad has frontotemporal lobe dementia. Routine, consistency and familiar faces are hugely beneficial to his sense of wellbeing and security, so when his friends aren’t available or he can’t access the usual activities he enjoys, my amazing mum is there with him 24/7. My siblings and I all try to ease the pressure (fortunately, I live only live an hour away in a village full of people who know my parents, so Dad can happily and safely wander around, chatting to neighbours), but it isn’t enough. That’s why we’re so lucky to have found an incredible Admiral Nurse, who has huge empathy and expert training in how to care for people living with dementia. It’s early days but we can already see the difference she can make to Dad’s life, and to ours.
There are around 180 Admiral Nurses in the UK and we need to have more. Not only do they offer amazing patience, skill and good old-fashioned care to those living with dementia, but they also provide guidance on complex elements of the condition, so families can feel more confident caring for someone with a diagnosis. An Admiral Nurse might offer help with eating problems (which, of course, we are particularly hot on in our family), but also how to cope in social situations where the behaviour of someone living with dementia may seem unusual or difficult.
My dad’s condition makes him happily disinhibited – it manifests in a love of singing and dancing. We’re used to that as a family. Now we can trust that someone else understands him, too. With an Admiral Nurse alongside him, even for just a few hours a week, we hope Dad can remain independent and active for as long as possible, and continue to sing his favourite song, ‘Bring me Sunshine’, with gusto (particularly apt for the end of August).
I hope that any of you living with a chronic health condition, or caring for someone who is poorly, have the help you need to continue living a full, engaged and active life. And I sincerely hope that Nourish can play a part. Do join our online community to share tips and experiences with others in similar situations; try out the recipes, which have been designed with specific health challenges in mind; and tell us what more Nourish can do to support you.