Sunday 18 August 2019

'You miss the talkative people that they used to be' - daughter caring for two parents with dementia

Paula Robinson from Cavan, Ireland's Carer of the Year 2017 Photo: Mark Stedman
Paula Robinson from Cavan, Ireland's Carer of the Year 2017 Photo: Mark Stedman
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

“You miss the talkative people that they used to be.”

Paula Robinson (48), from Cootehill, Co Cavan cares for her mother Mary (84), who has Alzheimer's disease, and her father Jimmy (92), who was diagnosed with bowel cancer several years ago and also has dementia.

Paula, who was voted Ireland’s Carer of The Year yesterday, shares a room with her mother to ensure her safety. Both of her parents are now bed bound.

On top of caring for her parents, Paula also takes care of her son Sean (14) and daughter Cara (20).

Paula, who cheerfully describes every day as a carer as different, says she is lucky to be able to care for her parents at home.

“Everyone has their own way and their own path. They both (her parents) would have gone into respite every so often but this year we just decided to keep them at home now.”

“Dad used to get so confused by the time he got in there to respite that I decided I wouldn’t put him through that. He’s better off just being where he is.”

“I wouldn’t put mum and dad into a home because I’m here and I can be with them. Now I’m lucky that I can look after them in my home; my husband is good and never minded them being here. In my case I wouldn’t be thinking of putting them into a home.”

“It is sad that people have to. I’m lucky that I can be at home and want to be at home. It is sad, people are probably happier in their own homes, but that doesn’t work for a lot of families.”

Mary and Jimmy were living in the UK, where they reared their family, but moved back to Ireland when Mary became ill with Alzheimer’s disease.

“When mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s she was fine at first but it started to get worse. My dad is 92 now so it was harder for him to care for her.”

“We asked dad if he wanted to live in Ireland again. In April 2010 they moved over to live with us. I’ve been caring for them since. Dad had bowel cancer in 2012 and so we’ve been living with that too, and he has dementia now.”

Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy & Communications with Age Action, said: “Ireland’s carers are the bedrock of community care in this country and generally get neither the recognition nor the support they deserve. Many families are under real pressure trying to care for their loved ones and if we had a proper system of home care in this country we would be able to make a real difference in the lives of so many thousands of family carers across Ireland.”

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