Carers need to live their own lives too – Communtiy Matters

By Sandra Harper, Timebank Broker for Torquay

I was sitting in the café having a coffee with friends, and a couple joined our group.

Jacqui, an acquaintance, introduced me to Sylvia who sat with us but was constantly looking at her phone. It turns out Sylvia was her mum.

Now, I’ve got grandkids and I know this square-eyed monster game where no one else exists in time or space except the phone, but Joan was in her 60s, had she become mesmerised by the monster?

After about ten minutes her hand went to her chest.

She was in a state of panic as her internet connection had dropped and whatever she was looking at had frozen. “Oh God,” she said, “she’s standing up!”

Now, this was a game I wasn’t familiar with but okay. I asked why she was so panicked, and it turns out it wasn’t a game, it was a live link to her mum that was at home.

Sylvia’s mum is in her 80s and not very mobile and Sylvie said she hated leaving her but, she was dragged out for coffee by her daughter.

“Too right,” I acknowledged, “you need your own time and space.”

And we had a chat about the role of a carer and the guilt when you are not at home.

It turns out she was riddled with guilt and that guilt and anger tend to be the primary emotions of a carer.

I know, I care for my partner and this wasn’t the life I had planned, this wasn’t what I envisaged doing in my 60s.

I’m tired and I’m angry. Could I walk away? No, so I am slowly learning to build a life outside of home.

I have signed up for an allotment, I have started a craft and I am looking to join a choir.

While the Sylvias of Torbay have a way to go, I know there is hope and there are people you can contact to help you.

Torbay Community Development Trust has a team of people called community builders, and they can direct you to groups or activities at times that you can attend to suit your circumstances in your area. We may even be able to find a telephone befriender to talk to mom on the phone while you are out.

There are lots of groups opening up, call us, and let us help you find the right fit.

It also worth mentioning that you can contact the helpline on 01803 446022 to ask for a referral to the adult social care team, they may be able to help you as well.

Don’t be angry, don’t be guilty, try live a little.