“I had a life before becoming a carer but now my life is on hold”, said Mona from Birmingham about her role as an unpaid carer for her father, Richard. Both Mona’s parents were diagnosed with dementia in 2017 and she made some big choices.
I didn’t realise I was a carer
When Mona’s parents returned to the UK from their native country, Jamaica, it was clear her Mum was experiencing mobility problems. There were challenges faced with living in a different country too – simple everyday things such as getting the bus, going to the bank. So, in 2017 Mona sold her house and moved in with her parents to care for them and to help them adjust to life here in the UK.
But something else was changing
Firstly, I noticed my parents were losing their memories. The detail of life in Jamaica was still very clear but things that happened just recently were not. It worked out well living together. I’m happy.
Life is very hectic
My caring role is everything. It comes first. It has too. I have reduced my hours and I work around my caring role. I’m financially worse off but that will change. My caring role will finish one day as my father is 90 years old. Sadly, my Mum died in November 2021. Dad is in good health. In the meantime, work four days a week for a bereavement charity. I visit some of the local branches here in the Midlands when Dad is at the day centre.
Kingham Cottage is awesome
“Oh my gosh, it is so beautiful.” It was absolutely perfect for a respite break. I felt really connected to other carers too because so many carers and their families have stayed there.
Like many carers, Mona had been carrying out the role long before she identified with the label. I just thought that I live with my parents and didn’t see myself as a carer. It was only when I attended an educational group about how to get support as a carer that I thought, “It has happened to me.” I didn’t realise I was a carer either!
Mona would like to help other carers acknowledge their role which means that they will seek the help they need and deserve. Telling her story here for our readers is one such way she is helping to achieve this.
Mona makes some time for herself
I enjoy my own company and so, once a week, when Dad is at his second day centre, I spend the day doing what I want to do. Sometimes I go to the cinema where I’ve been known to fall asleep! I love a trip to the garden center and my carers yoga session too. As it’s so hard planning anything as a carer, this will suffice for now. It’s not forever! My life is on hold now but it won’t always be.