Physical health as a carer

My father is physically unwell but he is caring for my mother. He refuses to go to the GP to get his health attended to. What can I do?

Research shows that carers supporting someone living with dementia are more likely to experience poor health, stress, depression or physical disabilities than the general population. This is because caring for someone can be very demanding on your own physical and mental health.

His role is vital in supporting your mother, but not to the detriment of his own health. If your father does not visit his GP for his own health issues, this could affect his ability to care for your mother now or in the future. It is important that he gets information and support for himself and your mother as soon as possible.

Consider asking someone else to talk with your father. They may be able to persuade him differently. Ask him if you can contact the GP on his behalf to discuss your concerns. Reassure him that he shouldn’t feel shame or guilt in asking for help for them both. There is support available!

Ask other friends or family to offer support, e.g. taking your mother out for the day, help with housework.

It is useful to find out what other support is available in your area, such as respite, day centres, sitting services, local support groups. Contact your local Social Services department; they will be able to advise on available support. Specifically ask for a ‘Community Care Assessment’ for your mother, and a Carers Assessment for your father. They are both entitled to this assessment and it will enable the authorities to identify what their needs are.

Please phone the Admiral Nurse Direct helpline where you will be able to speak to a dementia specialist nurse for individual advice and support, and to find out if there is an Admiral Nurse available in your area. Our nurses can provide an objective view about your situation, provide a professional listening ear, and give your father permission to accept whatever feelings he may be experiencing.