Meet the mum-of-two awarded Carer of the Year
A mother of two who cares for her elderly parents suffering from cancer and dementia has been named the Carer of the Year 2017.
Paula Robinson (48), from Cootehill, Co Cavan, was among 30 carers who were honoured for their selfless devotion to their loved ones as part of the CarePlus Pharmacy Carer awards in Dublin yesterday, hosted by RTÉ stars Marty Whelan and Mary Kennedy.
Mrs Robinson not only cares for her son Sean (14) and daughter Cara (20), but also provides round-the-clock care for her mother Mary (84), who has Alzheimer's disease, and her father Jimmy (92), who was diagnosed with bowel cancer several years ago.
Paula shares a room with her mother to ensure her safety and feeds both of her frail parents after her mother had a fall a few years ago.
Her four sisters, live abroad in England and the US, nominated her for the award as a "thank you" for all the work she does for the family.
Despite not having much time for herself, she doesn't complain. "That's just the way it is," she said, adding a sense of humour helps her cope.
"I have a short memory and a glass of wine at night," she said.
Her parents moved from Ireland to Coventry in England shortly after they married.
Paula's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 10 years ago. Her father wasn't coping too well so Paula decided to relocate them to Cootehill where she could take care of them.
When her father moved back to Ireland he was in relatively good health. However, he has since suffered from bowel cancer and now has dementia.
Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTE's Radio One this morning, Paula said the move was a "big transition".
"Dad was used to being in charge of his own house. It was hard for everyone at first but they are just the best parents that anyone could have," she said.
Paula said there are some tough moments but the family just "go with the flow".
"I have good friends and a carer comes in three times a day so you have people coming in and out all the time. It's just the way it is."
Recalling fond memories of her parents before their illnesses, Paula said she misses being able to chat with them.
"[Mum] doesn't talk anymore, there's no conversation. Dad was always full of chat. He was a barber and he'd like to go out for a drink. You'd miss the conversation.
"You just realise that you should have asked them more questions or spent more time with them," she said.