I wrote this reflection today and in response to the Carers Allowance Benefit which wasn’t mentioned in the Spring Budget. Does the reflection sound familiar to any of you?
“Why do anything in the community if I can’t care for a family member?” That’s the guilt question that came to me this morning for not being able to do what my grandma needs. For saying ‘I can’t’ when I didn’t have the mental capacity to apply creams and ointments on my grandma who was in pain last night.
How many of us leave our jobs because of the responsibility we have at home? How many of us carers are struggling with our mental health, suffering from exhaustion and almost despair at times?
Carers need to be recognized across the board. From young carers, young adult carers and adult carers. Empathy, support and encouragement is necessary. And the parliamentarians need to listen to us.
Why is carers allowance still the lowest benefit allowance out there??
Because unpaid carers who leave their jobs or cut their hours at work are doing the job for social care at the expense of their own lives.
Hi Zulekha. Couldn’t agree more.
Carers Allowance is a victim of its origins. It was originally designed to provide an income and retirement protection for single women looking after their parents. They were given a payment that was equivalent to what a husband would receive on Invalidity Benefit for his dependent wife. The benefit was eventually opened up to allow a much broader group of carers to be able to claim it, but it’s core design never changed. When Invalid Care Allowance (it’s original name) was scrapped, the government missed a golden opportunity to restructure it and raise it to the same level as equivalent benefits. They’ve consistently ignored the fact that - effectively - CA is a sexist benefit, still mainly claimed by women and paid at a lower rate than benefits more likely to be claimed by men. One for an Equality Act challenge, methinks.
Hi. The real challenge is to find ways in order to do that. Try making out a list of your own options. You could head down to the shops or fit in a trip to the local library to get new books. Alternatively pay a visit to the church or eat at a busy restaurant or pub. Make time for yourself. Have your hair done in addition. Meet a friend for a cup of coffee or a snack at a cheap cafe instead. Paint your finger nails. Do puzzles. Play board games.
Best of luck. Talk with your old friends on the phone as well. Exercise your body and your mind. Learn a new skill somehow at a further education college or via the internet. Spend some of your own time sorting out your life. Read a few different magazines. Bake something or treat yourself to a spa day.
Put up your feet and relax with a drink and a book or watch a old but nice movie at home. Sleep. Take care of yourself. Relax and meditate. This is a list of suggestions only for self care activities. Dance quite slowly to appropriate music. Laugh. Smile. Leave the house from time to time. Stare at flowers. Take up drawing.
Some of the suggestions you are making are too costly for many carers
Not only costly, but seems to assume we have loads of time on our hands.
I basically run two households, do a small amount of part time work as I need the money and am permanently on call should a crisis hit.
Life sure is fun!
Agree Jane and Pet! Also we cannot always leave the person we are caring for for long periods…I tend to be able to go out for an hour or an hour and a half. Also hard to plan too much in advance as we may have to drop everything to be there for a GP callback or a visit to the Surgery!
A telephone befriender may be an option though as many have been Carers themselves but there may be a waiting list. Try your local Carers Group. Thankfully I love to read and that helps but I do use my library ebay and the charity shops as well as amazon. I am an Admin for a Social Group and Chair 2 Book Clubs and that does help. Thankfully the few very close friends I have to understand the situation and are happy to have regular coffees at the local Community Cafe which thankfully is a short walk. With regard to hairdo’s I will NOT give up my long blond highlighted and lowlighted hair, but only now go around 6 times a year maybe less. My hairdresser is a close friend who is caring for her parents in law so is used to be getting a bit panicky time wise and has said one day she wants to use curling tongs on my hair and do the ‘finish’ properly but tbh I am happy with the colouring and the cut as can usually style myself.
It is worth looking what is available locally though but finding time to get out for long periods is challenge for many if not most of us.
@Charlesh47 this was interesting to read. Thank you for sharing on the origins which now explains why it’s very low compared to other benefits.
@thara_2207 I definitely understand where you are coming from but the difficulty I have is yes I started colouring therapy, sudoku puzzles, reading and everyday journalling and gratitude list but as my grandma’s health deteriorated, time to myself became extremely difficult. I will be doing my gratitude list and journalling while listening out for my grandma who I have just taken to the bathroom. So what was meant to be “me time” isn’t anymore.
Plus for many carers, with low income, their money may have to be used on equipment, as well as the essentials therefore not much left over. Hence why it is a real shame that the carers allowance is so poorly paid in comparison to other benefits.
Thara, I don’t know much about who you care for, but you seem to have a great deal of free time and enough money to do whatever you want. Lots of carers struggle to make ends meet. I was a full time carer for my son for 16 years. In all that time the only totally child free days were when I was in hospital having a hysterectomy! I was so run down that I had 14 courses of antibiotics in 12 months, finally the GP told Social Services that my son must board at his school to give me a break. Money was so tight that just buying a new pair of undies was a very special treat. My day was so full that at the end of it, I’d have a bath, go to bed. There was no time, money, or energy for anything else. My personal special treat might be some Lavender Soap or Powder given as a Christmas/birthday present… Petrol costs were a major headache, with son and mum in law 15 miles away for some months. At times I was struggling to feed my family when husband was unexpectedly made redundant. (Our average height is over 6 feet tall, the boys were still at school, still growing!) Soon after my husband died I was disabled, nearly killed in a horrific car accident, yet still supporting son and housebound mum. I survived financially by selling off my husband’s 30 ton stock of lorry parts, despite my injuries.
Thank you Thara. Your suggestions are really helpful, wide and varied.