The Empowered Connectors programme invites Carers who have been on the Empowered Conversations journey – whether that’s attending our Communication Courses or receiving one-to-one support – to share their experiences to help others who are facing similar situations.
Meet Empowered Connector Janet Birkins who cares for her husband Keith who has Alzheimer’s.
“My husband was diagnosed 13 years ago but on reflection showed signs several years before. Keith has not needed me to provide physical care but mentally his complete lack of short-term memory, personality changes – total lack of empathy, narcissistic tendencies (cannot see beyond his own immediate needs), have been extremely draining.
In my experience (and everyone’s experience will be different) I have found it utterly bewildering. Each day can bring a new facet to my husband’s personality and yet another adjustment must be made to meet my husband’s needs. I have found the last few years particularly exhausting, sad, sometimes hilarious, confusing, and eventually totally time confusing. I could safely say that I have gone through the whole gamut of human emotions, thankfully not all at once.
Without Empowered Conversations, I think I would probably have been on tranquillisers and become a nervous wreck. Sounds extreme but the last few years have been hard. I desperately wanted to understand as much as possible about Keith’s condition, through Empowered Carers, I have been on dementia courses, attended and still attending Zoom lectures on various aspects of dementia and received regular counselling sessions.
I have been signposted by them to organisations which I had never heard of but were able to help with finance etc. Being a member of support groups is vital for one’s well-being, I have learned coping strategies, been introduced to mindfulness, learned how to care for oneself, art classes… the list is endless, and they are beyond value.”
Janet’s advice to other carers is:
- Being a carer is a long and difficult journey, it is not easy but made so much better if you have good family support, good friends and most importantly that you have an organisation like Empowered Carers/Conversations to guide you, care for you and in whom you have complete faith and trust.
- It is important to take one step at a time, it is impossible to look to the future and each day can bring a new challenge. There can be humour in many of the situations that arise so whenever possible try to see the funny side – not always easy – but this is another reason why a strong support network is vital.
- Remember, physical and mental health is of vital importance to your role as a carer and without that, the job will become impossible.