For many unpaid family Carers Christmas will just be another day.

For many unpaid family Carers Christmas will just be another day.

Guest blog by Maureen

For many unpaid family Carers Christmas will be no different to any other day of the year, the loved ones they care for still have to be cared for 24/7, their disability or illness doesn’t go away just because it’s Christmas, quite often Carers have found that friends and family no longer visit or even enquire how they or their caree are which leaves them feeling shut off from the outside world, what many people don’t realise is anyone, and I mean anyone can become a carer in an instant, you don’t chose to become an unpaid carer, it just happens without warning and in some cases without realising you are a carer.
Christmas is no fun either for the person being cared for, they to feel cut off as well while the outside world is having Christmas.
Christmas is another time when outside help is not always available and everywhere is closed putting more and more pressure on the unpaid carer at this time of year.
Chill4us forum is a lifeline to many unpaid carers, it may not be person to person but knowing someone is out there can ease a little of the loneliness and isolation and Chill4us is open all over Christmas, New year and the rest of the year.
Below are some comments how some family carers feel at this time of year……..
  • My caring duties are the same on Christmas day as on every other day of the year.
  • The fact that everyone else seems to be celebrating, socialising and having a jolly time makes the feeling of isolation, loneliness, sadness more keenly felt.   I do not go out of the house on Christmas Day even for a short walk as I would feel conspicuous walking alone at a time when people are getting together in groups of family or friends.   Even television on Christmas Day majors on family/friends having a lovely time together
  • Christmas is just the same as any other day apart from the presents and Christmas dinner
  • I’m afraid Christmas isnt really anything to me. I miss my parents – they cant come and see me as my caree’s mum goes away to France. This year we will however have carers in for a couple of hours so maybe it won’t be such a lonely day this year for me. All I want (as always) is for my partner to be happy and in reasonable good health if thats possible.
  • Since my son became ill Christmas has been unbearably sad for me. It is a day to be got through. Everyone seems to be so full of Christmas spirit & I am really unhappy. I suspect many others feel the same way as our family. To get through I try to concentrate on the New Year & hope that things will be better
  • I may not see anyone on Christmas Day which makes it lonely
  • We’re still stuck in the same relentless routine that we were this time last year, so I don’t feel we’ve got a lot to celebrate, except for our sheer survival.
  • I have been caring for hubby for over 13 years and in that time friends have backed off.
  • Nobody realises that this time of year when people look forward to office parties, Santa coming and over indulging, that behind closed doors there are some very lonely and unthought of people.
  • Family and friends expect you to be in a jolly mood because it’s “christmas” and don’t understand why you find it so hard. Bah humbug to you, they think.
  • I know I am missing the real meaning of Christmas here but the reality isn’t all that is portrayed on commercials and misty christmas films.
  • Its a stressful time for sure, but, like any other time, you do the best you can for your family. I have six children, four of whom have ASD/ADHD or other mental health problems. one also has diabetes and thyroid failure. because they all have different requirements it involves a lot of planning and being available at all times
  • Partying is a no no I care for my 85 yr old mum who has dementia so if mum don’t go neither do I

How do you cope at Christmas if you are a carer to your partner who has a drink problem.? You come to dread this time of year. You fear that most of the charities that offer help, will be closed.
Being in close contact with family can bring out tensions and problems which maybe you have been able to hide for the rest of the year.  You may ask “How can I stop my partner from drinking so much?” Unfortunately the short answer to that is – you can’t. They will stop when it suits them.   You have to look after YOU.  Abuse, whether physical or emotional is not acceptable.
These charities are there for YOU and remember to make an appointment to go and see your doctor to discuss the problems as soon as you can.

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7 Responses to For many unpaid family Carers Christmas will just be another day.

  1. mumxtwo says:

    A truly moving article. If it has taught me anything it is that I am not alone in my sadness.

  2. A VERY powerful article. I am a HUGE fan of the Chill4UsCarers website. A lifeline for lonely carers at all times but all the more so at Christmas.

  3. Amanda Boult says:

    Definitely makes you stop and think, I will keep this article in my mind when doing my support work. I have arranged a Christmas dementia cafe especially for carers and people with dementia so they can come together and am so glad I have hopefully it will bring a little cheer.

  4. Derek Kirkham says:

    Not only does my wife not understand what it is all about, she gets postively distressed about it. To me, now, it is routine with added Turkey. As each Season of Goodwill comes and goes, it takes with it memories of happier times that will not be replaced.

  5. John Phillis says:

    I’ve just read through the article and posts and it sounds so familiar . . . I care for my mother who is now 87, I am 60. I empathise with the rest of you reading this, it is such hard work but at least we still have our loved ones with us; but so many people just don’t get it.

    My aunt often says, of my mother, she’s not my sister anymore. . . . but she is and, with a little understanding and some effort, there is so much of the old mum still locked away in there.

    I am just coming to the end of a great course on Person Centred Dementia Care run by Dementia Care Matters and it has really helped me to understand what is going on with Mum and how to cope with her. I am happy to admit that a small dose of Citalopram for both Mum and I seems to smooth the days as well.

    The thing I find helpful is looking for coping strategies, especially for Christmas, building on lessons learned from previous years. Mum still plays the organ at Church but I now describe myself as her short term memory for this. I prepare everything for her to play, sit up by the organ, point at what’s next, reassure, encourage and so on, she just has to do the bit I can’t which is to play and I reckon she is somewhere back in the 1970’s in terms of her playing.

    She has been playing the organ for 70 years this year and each Christmas has got a little harder. She stresses about the planning of services, about practices, about meeting up with the vicar and more. Over the last four years. I have gone from reassurance but it wasn’t enough and the stress caused real issues for her, a family wedding in St Lucia over Christmas which cost me over £250 in phone calls reassuring and supporting her, spending the whole week leading up to Christmas with her to reassure and support to this year where, now living there seven days a week most weeks, I had everything prepared for the Carol Service, Christingle, Crib Service, practices, midnight and Christmas morning by the first week of December. I got her to write ‘Agreed’ and sign the service sheets, this has proved the most beneficial thing to date in coping with Christmas.

    Still people just don’t get it. After the Christmas morning service mum likes to be home alone, Christmas lunch and then sleep to recover from all the hard work. This has been her pattern since Dad died in 1978. People think she should go out to lunch, do what they think is normal. Mum would like to be left alone to sleep. But no, we have to go have a family Christmas lunch with my daughter. It will be fun in most ways but difficult and disruptive for mum. The coping strategy? Don’t mention it, say ‘that’s right’ when she remembers and just do it. Then, once there, let her fall asleep in the armchair and take her home late afternoon or early evening.

    So, my little rant is over. Please don’t let Christmas get you down. Find a coping strategy, enjoy the precious time you still have left with the one you care for and find other Carers to share information with. They will have different ways of dealing with things and talking about our problems so often comes up with free solutions.

    I hope everyone here has a Merry Christmas and a Happy new year . . . Even if you has to find a new frame of reference as each year passes.

    Best Wishes


  6. Nicole Pickford says:

    I have to say I have not read your content – but as a sole carer for an elderly parent I say Christmas will nor be like another day. It will be much MUCH worse. It will be me and her and me trying to make the day different and her wishing it was a family day. However I am a poor carer now and she is old and running down… So just us 2 trying to get through a holiday and be positive, even though it is nothing like how it has been in the past…

  7. Nicole Pickford says:

    So please PLEASE dont say it is like any other day.

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