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Caring from afar by Rebecca Fuller

Rebecca Fuller shares her experience of caring for her Mum during the pandemic. Rebecca is a Dementia Advocate and Public Speaker promoting understanding about Dementia, wellbeing and support for carers.

Wow. What a world we are currently living in - one where a lot of us are predominantly confined to walls. Some are flowery, some are bare, some are striped or painted in eclectic colours – but they still remain the same – walls.

However, loved ones who are not residing within our walls are never far from our hearts, minds and worries.

My levels of worry for my mum have gone through the roof in the last few weeks. I have actually felt stress physically taking over me, so much so that I have fallen to the floor in complete hopelessness. Mainly as I don’t know how to fill the void that she desperately needs filled.

Before the coronavirus pandemic was brought upon us and we were going about our everyday lives, mum already lived with very limited levels of independence and self-sustainability. So I spent a lot of my days offering emotional support, battling my way through the social care system and helping to enhance her low quality of life.

My mum has Autism, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Persistent Delusional Disorder – what does this mean? Well, she needs a lot of support and has very defined needs with a strict routine which when shaken causes her (like many of us would) to feel extreme anxiety and distress.

My mum’s disordered thinking and change of routine has definitely had a negative impact on her. I speak to her every day and each time she displays angst, fear and anger. I have tried using distraction techniques to overcome the need to speak about coronavirus but how can we get away from it? News about it is everywhere.

She has a tablet, so I have managed to teach her how to receive photographs. I send her pictures of my bedroom; my surroundings and random cuddly teddies. She has been lighting up at seeing them and now my younger brother has given her an old iPhone which I can FaceTime her on. This makes such a difference, especially as she has never turned an actual computer on before and I think it helps to reduce her loneliness.

She lives in a very rural location so getting groceries to her has been particularly difficult, however, there is a lovely local shop that is going to deliver her some bits. Hooray! I have also contacted many local services to see what we can do to help her get more essentials and many have declined due to her location, however, I will continue my search. I actually requested ideas from the wonderful Twitter community and so many lovely people responded with really helpful ideas, so I’m really touched and grateful for that. It just re-emphasises that people truly are wonderful.

Another thing I have found really helpful is the post office being open (sounds silly) but that is a life saver right now. I have sent mum endless hand sanitizers, soap, face masks, a teddy, a hoover and I’m sure there will be more things to come so I am really pleased that I am able to do that.

Lastly, to try and maintain some escapism from everything that is going on and the heightened stress regarding mum, I have opted to attempting to read a lot more. I find getting lost in a book a great way to unwind so I highly recommend trying that. Even if it is just a page or two.


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