Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Weekend with Grandad

On Friday afternoon, I left work at 5pm, I stepped out of my work role and into one as a family carer. As I have discussed in a previous post, I lost my Nan last year. She was my Grandad's carer, when she became unwell my Mum took on the role. This was not an easy transition nor a quick one but one that our family felt necessary. I feel very grateful to be part of a family that has been willing and able to come together to support each other and Grandad during the past year and a half.

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A family carer is defined as; someone who provides unpaid care for a family member or a friend due to an illness, disability, mental health problem or an addition and cannot cope without the support. I have previously worked as a home care assistant so have experience of providing personal care and using equipment such as hoists to move people who cannot move themselves. This knowledge and experience helped to an extent but when I began supporting Grandad I had to get over feelings of embarrassment at helping him with such personal tasks.

It was Mum's birthday last week so about a month ago I offered to stay with Grandad for the weekend so that Dad could take her away. I think it's important for them both to be able to have some quality time together and for Mum to have a proper break from her caring role once in a while.

Grandad is and has always been a kind, gentle man and he has had to learn to be a patient one as well. As long as I have known him he has had a physical disability, losing his leg in a motorcycle accident when he was much younger and being diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). In recent years Grandad's physical ability has deteriorated as well as his memory, however, his humour and personality are still very much in tact. He still takes pleasure from life and experiences even if he can't always remember what he has done. He is a definition of living in the moment.

Friday evening was spent in front of the telly catching up on Doctor Foster while Grandad snoozed beside me. He woke long enough to ask for cheese on toast for tea and to take his medication before saying that he would like to go back to sleep, a favourite activity of his. I was worried that he would be up in the night but he slept straight through. In the end I was the one that had trouble sleeping because I forgot my eye mask.

Luckily for me Grandad often enjoys a lay in as much as me. He was still sleeping when I woke at half 9. I sat and had a coffee and watched another episode of Doctor Foster before waking him. He decided that he would like eggs for breakfast so that's what he got alongside his orange juice and morning medication. After another snooze, it was time to have a wash, get dressed and go out.

Grandad now uses a hoist to lift him out of his bed into his adapted wheelchair. We have also been able to purchase an adapted van. This allows us to lower the suspension, push the wheelchair up the ramp and strap him in. Being able to do this gives him and us some much needed freedom. He can come with us to most places, as long as they are wheelchair friendly.

Although we have a lot of equipment to help, it is still physically tiring moving Grandad around, the wheelchair is heavy enough without him in it for a start! I look at it as good exercise though, which makes me feel a lot less guilty about tucking into the Chinese take away and chocolates Grandad and I shared Saturday night. To balance being out and about Saturday afternoon, we enjoyed a lazy day in today watching Christmas films until my parents returned. We then cooked and ate a roast dinner together while watching the Theory of Everything before I packed up my things and headed home.

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