Being a youth care worker and attending school.

Being a youth care worker and attending school

Exams are the most stressful for any student at any time of the year but when it comes to final exams for A-levels, whilst juggling responsibilities at home, I have never felt more stress in my life. This was definitely a hard time in my education and without it I don’t think I would have developed into the person I am right now. No one will truly understand the levels of stress I reached and the amount of work I had to do to keep my grades up, look after my grandma and look after my mum and keep a part time job. However, the part time job was my choice, and I can’t really complain about it considering I have just been promoted as well. When exam’s role around there is extreme levels of stress throughout, no one will ever truly know each other’s thoughts and feelings and how much stress we are all under. But when it has come to me being in education and juggling many roles on top of each other I feel I am constantly underestimated. Especially when it came to my friend group there were certain people who wouldn’t realise the amount of stress I was under. My grades weren’t the always perfect AAA and throughout the whole two years of my education I felt as if I was being pushed out because of that. As if I wasn’t smart enough for them. Now I am using this platform as not only a way of discussing my thoughts and feelings but for a way to help others in my situation see that they are not in any way alone in their feelings and struggles, like I thought I was. I was only twelve when I had to properly take on several roles in which would change the way my life worked. Dementia and Alzheimer’s have very technical and medical terms but in its simplest form is either a very slow or rapid deterioration of the brain's stimulation. It makes you unable to recall memories, lose the ability to speak correctly and lose your sense of individuality, among other side effects. One of the most frequently asked questions I get from people around me is, what thoughts were going through your head when I first became a young career? And now when I think over it my most recurring thought was questioning myself on how I deal with this situation. When first having to deal with my grandma’s diagnosis I was confused, I knew nothing of Dementia or the different types or how it could affect the things I loved in her when I was little. Dementia is also a forever changing disease which is why you’ll find there’s lots of research with little answers.  If you’d like to learn more, I will link some helpful websites which can educate you on dementia and how it effects the brain.,and%20their%20personalities%20may%20change. This website explains dementia quite well. If you’d like to find out more, I’ll put some more links to helpful websites down the bottom of this page. When looking at the several years my grandma has been diagnosed with dementia, there are patterns overtime where I can see changes in her behaviour, she lacks the ability of doing things herself. At the start of her diagnosis there was still parts of her that would remember names and all the important memories and actions families hold together. My favourite thing as a kid was staying over and making jam tarts and there was always that special touch, she had which seemed to make them just the perfect amount of sweetness. The normal things we do day-in day-out completely change. You want to make food; you know after your finished you must turn things off. She’d forget that and we’d come see her in a stifling hot house with the oven left on. We couldn’t let her live like that, it was dangerous, so when she moved in it was up to me and my parents to give her the best life we possibly could until she would eventually pass.  I think now if i asked her to make one she couldn’t even speak the word let alone know what it is, its sad that in about two to three years she has lost everything that maked her who she was. What are the best methods to relax that I use that other people could also find useful? I get asked this a lot, with my role, I tend to be more stressed than I am relaxed. I’ve tried all sorts of different methods in trying to help myself relax and unwind after having a bad day when dealing with dementia. And the one constant thing I found myself turning to was books, fiction books to be specific, the ability to get lost in a world and not have to come out of it until I was ready to deal with my real life. I don’t really know if this was because my grandma before the dementia loved a good book, it possibly could be me trying to have a mental connection to her from when I was younger. But what I do know is that I love me a good book. I want to also mention that just because it might work for me doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. There are plenty of ways to find things that work for you and it's all about experimenting with what time and resources you have to make yourself unwind and see that there is a brighter side to life. I also found that having an animal companion has helped. I’ve been able to take my dog out on walks when I need the space for myself to relax and regenerate. If you are like me and enjoy reading, I will link some books which help to explain the effects of dementia: 

  • ‘The Little Girl in the Radiator’ by Martin Slevin – this book is based on the authors experiences caring for his mum who had Alzheimer’s with dementia. Slevin gives an excellent and humorous insight to the challenges that carers face, especially the families at the very front of it. Sharing this he produces the action and tough decisions he made such as around long-term care and health decisions.
  • ‘Afloat’ by Nigel Baines – this is a more graphic memoir about dementia told from the perspective of a son who cared for his mother. I recommend this to families facing dementia, health care professionals and anyone who is looking for an insight into the role of being a carer.

 What would I say is the most important thing to know when it comes to caring for someone with dementia? Personally, with my experience its knowing that every day will most likely be different. There is never a day where I haven’t had to adapt to what she is able to do that day. What are the best ways for me to act when I know my grandma is having a particularly bad day, is confused or has an episode? With the advancement of her condition now, bad days are becoming more frequent and therefore there are limited things I can do with her. She no longer remembers names or memories or how to do thing and the list goes on of things she struggles with now. Extending to her not being able to feed herself now. What is one certain aspect that can be particularly challenging on a bad day? My grandma tends to go quite stubborn on a bad day so getting her to eat drink and wash are the main activities that I will struggle with. At the current time in writing this article I’m about to start University, unknown environment in which I am unsure in how to workaround yet. I am a commuting student so I will drive in and then drive home which also means I’ll be away from home longer effecting my role in caring. However, I am excited for my next steps in education, and I believe this journey is a huge steppingstone for my future. And whilst I am prioritizing myself my care role is important to me. This website is the Dementia Uk website to look into if your prefer a website to look at. This is Alzheimer’s society Alzheimer’s association website NHS website with definition of dementia