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Abi’s story…life as a young carer
To mark Young Carers Awareness Day, Abi describes the selfless sacrifice she, and many others like her make to look after loved ones:
I was noticed as a young carer at the age of about seven – mainly because of my older brother had ADHD, mild Asperger’s and autism.
At this point in time my mum was also beginning to suffer from physical disabilities and her diabetes didn’t help either.
This also meant the carer roles of Dad and me were increased dramatically. By the time I was about 10 my sister had moved out which meant that we could focus on mum as we felt she needed support in any way possible.
At the time my brother was around 14 to 15 years old and social services had said that he couldn’t stay at home as he was a danger to himself and to others. So he was being moved from pillar to post up and down the country to different boarding schools which put more strain on the family as we struggled to see him all the time when he was always so far away.
After some housing troubles occurred in 2010 we decided to move down the road to a smaller house as our house was far too big for us to keep care of and care for mum at the same time. I was aged about 10 at this point.
A few months went by when Mum and I began to notice that Dad’s behaviour and emotions toward things were changing. He would forget to turn the hob off, leave the keys in the car or forget the feed the dog. It was just little things. My auntie thought it may have been depression, but we were sure there was something else.
It wasn’t until the beginning of June 2013 that we had lost my Nan to a heart attack, and this is when we noticed Dad have a massive behavioural change and he got a lot worse.
An incident happened between me and my Dad as he had got angry over something minor and completely snapped. So I was placed on the At Risk Register for around six months which, to be quite honest, were the worst six months I’ve ever had.
All the social workers would care about is getting us off the register so they didn’t have to keep coming to visit, and they were still accusing my Dad of being overly violent and treated him as though he was a real danger to everyone around him.
In the end they were pushing for him to see a doctor after me and mum told them we thought something was wrong with him and it wasn’t just depression.
He was transferred to a number of different doctors and other professionals until we finally got a diagnosis. He had frontotemporal lobe dementia that was quite rare and that was the reason the GP didn’t pick up on it.
As my Mum and Dad were the only ones in the room when he got the diagnosis, the doctors didn’t really bother to ask if my mum was being cared for or even if there was anyone else at home. So for all they knew my mum, who is noticeably disabled, would have to care for herself and my dad.
My mum was told what this type of dementia effects but not how to deal with it or what we should expect from it so we had to find it all out for ourselves as they only gave my mum the name which I thought was pretty unthoughtful.
- Now read Chief Nursing Officer for England, Jane Cummings’ blog on Young Carers Awareness Day.
- Get updates on young carers at: #thinkcarer #youngcarer
What a powerful story.
We should value the experience and expertise of these young carers.
Reading Abi’s story makes me think what a great NHS colleague Abi would make: she has the sort of insight that we often lack.
The NHS is the largest employer in Europe. What are we doing practically to support people like Abi and to offer career opportunities in health and social care careers?