Carer Conversations Session 3: Dee

Dee cares for her grandmother, who has dementia, as well as her son who suffered a brain injury following an accident. Here she talks about the differences in her caring roles and how she manages her family life — generally with a sense of humour.

“I think humour is the best way to cope with most things… you’ve got to laugh otherwise you might cry.”

Click here to hear Dee’s Carer Conversation.

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Understanding ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Children and adults who have ADHD find it difficult to concentrate and focus.

October is ADHD Awareness Month

“He has issues” my sister used to say when I asked about my young nephew.  She never went into detail what the issues were but his hyperactivity was excused as “his father was hyper when he was a boy.”

However my nephew’s issues became more apparent at the age of six when he started school.  The reports of impulsive outbursts were interspersed with bouts of inability to focus or comprehend what he was being told or what he had read. But again that was pushed to the side by my sister because “he could focus when he was interested.” And yes, he could spend hours with his collection of Star Wars figures, Pokemon cards and video games.

It wasn’t until this year when he turn 18 and that my sister decided to have him tested. Throughout his 12 years of schooling he had always had extra tutoring, but when he failed to score high enough on an exam to get into university, she needed another excuse.

When we spoke, she didn’t say he had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) but said:  “He has trouble with his executive functions.” That meant nothing to me until I saw the documentary ADHD: Not Just for Kids.

It was then I learnt more about ADHD which is defined as a complex neuro-biological disorder that interferes with a person’s executive functions. This includes focus, memory, organisation, and regulating emotions. This is something that you don’t outgrow but symptoms can become less obvious as people age. An adult may not be hyperactive, but still have an inability to concentrate.

The more I read about ADHD, I thought: “I have that”…as I’d experienced similar symptoms while growing up as I was shy, withdrawn and liked to daydream and now  going through menopause, and bouts of  anxiety and depression I found it hard to focus, remember things and my emotions were totally erratic.  However, everyone has trouble occasionally with some of the traditional ADHD symptoms, but for people with the disorder, it can interfere in their everyday life. 

Thankfully now my nephew is getting help with coping strategies, such as regular exercise, practising mindfulness and regulating his sleep patterns.

ADHD affects 4.4 per cent of adults and is usually diagnosed earlier in boys than in girls.  Boys are typically more hyperactive and easier to spot, leaving many young girls and woman undiagnosed. Many girls aren’t hyperactive but are easily distracted and have a hard time concentrating.  They are usually the daydreamers that sit at the back of the classroom. Girls with ADHD are more likely to be diagnosed later in life and are vulnerable to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

This information got me to thinking about someone I know. In her mid-30s, she portrays a shy, withdrawn “little girl” image and I reasoned it was because she is an introvert. It was then suggested by a mother whose daughter had been diagnosed with ADHD that perhaps she is “on the spectrum”.  Suddenly the penny dropped. No longer did I think she’s just wanting attention, and I could view her situation which compassion.  I only wish I understood about the levels of ADHD earlier on, as it would have helped me relate better with her and others.

So as October is ADHD Awareness month, let’s dispel a few myths about the disorder.

ADHD is not an illness: ADHD is a neuro-biologically-based disorder that’s the result of an imbalance of chemical neurotransmitters in the brain. Simply put, those with ADHD have brains that are wired differently.

ADHD is not caused by bad parenting. It can be genetic with children having more than a 50 per cent chance of inheriting ADHD from their parents. It can also be caused by neurological factors such as pregnancy complications, brain damage, and prenatal exposure to toxins, such as alcohol and tobacco.

Too much “screen time, ”  junk food and sugar isn’t to blame either. This has been linked to many other problems in childhood such as inactivity, obesity, and poor nutrition,  but there is no strong evidence that these cause ADHD which is also not an excuse for laziness.

Not everyone displays the same ADHD symptoms which can include a spectrum of issues from inattentiveness to hyperactivity or impulsiveness.  Only when the symptoms are numerous and severe enough do doctors make a diagnosis of ADHD. 

If you are caring for a child or adult with ADHD, the Carers’ Centre is here to help.  And for more support groups specifically on ADHD in the BANES area click here . For more information on ADHD in the UK check out The ADHD Foundation.

We’d like for you to share your story as together we grow! If you care for someone with ADHD or have been diagnosed with ADHD, please comment on this blog or email me at carmen.cooper@banescarerscentre.org.uk.

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Carer Conversations Session 2: Immie & Bassie

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

September means back to school and we’re thinking about the young carers who maybe didn’t get so much of a break over the summer as their peers. Young carers can face a very challenging time at home with ill, disabled or frail relatives, struggling with sleep, managing homework, or keeping up with friends.

In this Carer Conversations session, two young people share their powerful stories. Bassie tells of the confidence he’s gained by getting involved with his local young carers service. And Immie shares her experience of being a young carer in school and the heartbreaking challenges she faced. Click the links below to listen.

“I couldn’t physically get her up from the floor. She had a concussion… And no one stopped to help.”

Bassie talks about gaining confidence

Immie shares her young carer experience

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Meet Volunteer Carmen

Carmen is a volunteer at the Carers’ Centre in Bath and North East Somerset. She has recently completed her A Levels and is now studying Liberal Arts & Sciences with a major in Psychology to degree level.

Why did you decide to volunteer?

There were multiple factors and inspirations about how my life could be improved if I did things for other people. I realised that being of service to others actually makes you feel better. It’s certainly helped me recover from an illness and you improve your life, become a better person and can let go of a frightened way of thinking. It’s also helped me grow and develop and I think become a better version of myself.

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Carer Conversations Session 1: Jayne Part 2

Last week we heard from Jayne about the challenges she faced caring for her mum, who has dementia. She said she felt like their roles had reversed and she had becoming the ‘nagging mother’, asking her mum to tidy up or cut her nails. Her friend Allie helped her by coming in and cleaning the house so her mum still felt like she had her independence.

Listen in to the second half of the conversation where Jayne talks about coping with emotional fallout.

Jayne & Allie Part 3
Jayne, Allie & Carmen (Part 4)
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Carer Conversations Session 1: Jayne

Listen in to a conversation between Jayne, who cares for her mum, and her friend Allie. Jayne talks about the struggles of looking after her mum, who has been diagnosed with Dementia.

Jayne’s mother won’t let her clean the house.

“It came to a head at Christmas when I pulled back [mum’s] bed and it was brown. I knew I couldn’t let it go on any longer,”

Her friend, Allie, offers to help.

Jayne & Allie Part 1
Jayne & Allie Part 2

Come back next week for more Carer Conversations.

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Getting (Ki)Activ

By Leanna Wall

It is not news that having a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of us getting ill or contracting heart problems or diseases such as type II diabetes. Personally though, I have always struggled with exercise since leaving school and not having to do it as part of a P.E lesson. When it comes to fitness, I need support from others. If I don’t have someone who wants to get fit with me, it isn’t a priority I try to fit in.

Cue KiActiv…

KiActiv was introduced to me when I joined the Carers’ Centre. It is a 12 week programme designed to get individuals increasing their physical activity levels. It combines motivation via a trained mentor and digital technology, using an activity tracker (like a Fitbit) and an accessible online profile which is easy to understand. It’s much more than just counting steps, focusing on all the things that contribute to physical activity and therefore, a healthy lifestyle.

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Getting Carers Connected with New Support Line

This Carers Week we’re launching a new phone system that is staffed from 8:15 to 12noon on weekdays by our specialist carer support officers. You can call free on 0800 0388 885 to get confidential advice, support and information about caring on this dedicated Support Line.

Our Chief Executive David Trumper says that looking after someone can leave you with lots of questions.  

“Navigating the health and social care system, juggling work and finances, balancing caring and other family responsibilities, as well as planning for the future is very challenging.”

“Sometimes it’s good to talk to someone who understands and can help point you in the right direction and connect you with others going through the same thing. Our free and confidential Support Line, staffed by experienced and friendly Support Officers, is here to help you feel in control of your caring role.”

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“Before I met your volunteer, I wouldn’t have considered myself a carer”

Some Carer Hub cakes made for a special event.

The Carers’ Centre is involved with the Carer Hub information point at the Bath Royal United Hospital. We do this in conjunction with Carers Support Wiltshire, Friends of the RUH and the RUH NHS Trust.

We heard from a carer who was introduced to our service via the Hub. She captures a lot of the thoughts and feelings that we come across so often when talking to people looking after someone. In Kathryn’s words: 

“I’ve been caring for my mum for 5 ½ years now, since my father passed away.   She’s 91 years old and has been in and out of hospital on and off, for around 5 months now, it’s been very stressful.  She is now back at home.  I worry so much about her and feel that I never do enough and that I should be doing more.  She lives independently, and wants to remains so, but fortunately lives within a 30 second walk from my house.  I feel guilty about having time away from her, but luckily I have a very supportive husband who is also very kind and caring to mum, having cared for his parents for many years.

“I was visiting mum in the RUH, Midford Ward, when approached by a Carer Hub volunteer.  She asked which area I lived in and handed me a BANES Carers information leaflet.  Up until that point I had been unaware of the organisation.  I read the leaflet and realised that I could benefit from the wonderful things that were offered, and if other carers could do these things then so could I!  Continue reading

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Tracey to run Bristol 10k for carers

Tracey, 58, cares for her husband Paul who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s four years ago. She’s now fundraising for a 10KM run to raise money for the Carers’ Centre.

Tracey at her home

“Last summer, I had a bit of a wobble. Everything with Paul’s diagnosis just hit me – I hated the word Alzheimer’s, dementia, I just didn’t want to hear it. I felt sad with the whole situation, angry, cheated, I felt like this shouldn’t be happening to us.

“I met with a friend who asked me if I was alright and I just broke down and said ‘no, I’m not.’ My friend suggested I call the Carers’ Centre – I have been registered as a carer for a while, but  never needed to use the service. I just hadn’t thought of it.

“I called the centre and spoke to Carers’ Support Officer Lorraine. She was just lovely and so supportive. We talked about how I’d lost my dad earlier in the year and then had my mum staying with us for a couple of months. I’d kept myself so busy, that I hadn’t really grieved for my dad. I was also grieving for Paul too because even though he’s still here, he’s changing.

“I had a few sessions with Lorraine and she said she thought I might benefit from taking part in the Coping with Caring course, which was just great. “

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