Saturday 20 January 2018

Catherine's story highlights plight of 187,000 family carers

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

GRANDMOTHER Catherine Aspil has spoken of the strain of caring for her husband who was left with the mind of a child after suffering two brain haemorrhages.

Catherine, from New Ross in Co Wexford, looks after her husband Tony around the clock, coping with the after-effects of the devastating brain damage he suffered nearly a decade ago.

She was speaking as part of National Carers Week, which aims to highlight the plight of an estimated 187,112 people looking after a loved one around the country.

Tony, a former panel beater, suffered his first subarachnoid haemorrhage – a type of stroke caused by bleeding in and around the brain – in 2004 and had another three years later.

"After the first he was not too bad. Unfortunately after the second he got a lot worse."

The couple have five children and several grandchildren but Tony's brain damage has left him with the personality of a four-year-old as well as suffering behavioural problems and epilepsy.

"A typical day for me involves rising early and trying to get Tony out of bed. It can take nine or 10 attempts. Then he has to be told to do everything. He is very childlike."

She suffered another blow last week when she was told her household package is being taken from her because her youngest child is living at home and on the jobseekers' allowance.

The cut in the respite grant means she will find it difficult to buy heating oil even though Tony feels the cold a lot.

"I don't know where I am going to get the money."

Catherine, who was among a number of carers present at the launch of the event by RTE presenter Nuala Carey in Dublin's Mansion House yesterday told the gathering it was time they stood up for themselves and spoke out.

Meanwhile, Young Carer of the Year 2012 Sam Norris (14), who shared the award with his sister Amanda, from Finglas, Dublin, was also in attendance.

The two youngsters of single mum- of-five Antoinette care for their two siblings with special needs – sister Demi has Cohen's Syndrome and brother Adam has autism.

Irish Independent

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