I am 93 now, and I am still the main carer for my son, who is 46, and lives at home. I provide him with emotional and practical support - I prompt him with his personal care, and take him on social activities and holidays. I also support him at home with things like laundry, deal with all the financial aspects of his life, and take him to medical and dental appointments.
Between the ages of 75 and 80 I really began to feel the difference in my health from my caring role. I am still constantly on the go, and I can't take time to recuperate when I get ill. My son's health has also been affected by his age - now he is approaching his mid-40s, he is physically much slower, and his weight increase is becoming obvious.
Our relationship has also changed to one of mutual dependency. As my son has matured he has begun to care for and support me - he now helps with the cooking and some of the housework. In the past I have always hidden my feelings to save my son any distress, and he has ignored the fact that I have been getting older and not wanted to talk about it. However, he now seems more aware that I am getting very old, and we have had to talk about planning for the future.
As my son has matured he has begun to care for and support me - he now helps with the cooking and some of the housework.
I have written my will, and arranged for a discretionary trust. All the plans are lodged with social services, and I have discussed them with my family, who are fully involved as trustees. I hope that in the future my son will be able to stay in the family home, which is a council property for older people. Ideally he would like to live here independently with a support package, but because of his age we are not sure if he will be eligible to do so. This will depend on the council when the time comes.
I receive a lot of support from the Mencap Older Carers Support Service, and a volunteer from the visual impairment team who helps me with my correspondence. I also get help from family members and neighbours, and the social work team. My GP knows that I am a carer and that I have problems accessing the surgery, so he has recently put my son on the home visits list.
My son attends a day service 5 days a week and receives support within the home to attend social events. He also goes to the local Mencap Gateway Club. He has attended the same day service for the past 28 years - his girlfriend also goes there - and he has no wish to change the current arrangements.
My son attends a day service 5 days a week and receives support within the home to attend social events.
I have never received a carer's assessment, but my son has completed a person centred plan at his day centre. He also receives breaks through the adult placement service which allows him to stay in a family environment, and gives me a chance to rest and not be tied to our usual routine. I found out about the service from my social worker, and then discussed it with a support worker from the Older Carers Project. As well as advice, they have also provided me with an advocacy service on several occasions.
I would advise other parents and carers to accept all offers of help and to keep an open mind about services. Find out as much information as possible before you make any decisions, and include the person you care for in everything. Treat them as you would anyone else. Being included helps them to develop skills, especially social skills, and in my experience this has also helped to change other people's perceptions of learning disability.
Advocacy: the process of supporting people to communicate what they want to say.
Person centred planning: an approach that involves listening to what someone wants from life and helping them to achieve it.
Trust: allows you to choose a friend, relative or professional (called a ‘trustee') to look after the money you have left for your son or daughter on their behalf, and to make sure that it is spent looking after their needs.
Trustee: someone who will look after the money you have left for your son or daughter on their behalf, to make sure that it is spent looking after their needs.