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‘I’m juggling caring for my dad with dementia, looking after my children and my job’

By Bhvishya Patel, Money team

Over four days this week, we’re speaking to some of Britain’s struggling unpaid carers, hearing at times heart-breaking accounts of their physical, emotional and financial struggles.

Today, a daughter who helps care for her father with dementia shares her worries about the future and being able to manage his cost of care.

“You go into a care home and you might have to sell your house and they’re taking all your money. I find that mad that you can work all your life and then you don’t even have enough to leave your kids. It just all goes on care – it’s crazy.

Karen Karbritz, unpaid carer

Karen, 49, began caring for her father Alan, 76, with her mother Judy after he was diagnosed with dementia in 2021.

The mother of two, from Hertfordshire, who works as an intelligence analyst for the prison service, says juggling care with her job and raising her two children is difficult and it is always her “work that suffers”.

“I’ve always got a guilt thing because I’m always thinking I should call my parents more, I should pop round more.

“My son is only nine and he has so many activities. I have to juggle the time because it is not fair for him to miss out on stuff.

“My boss sometimes asks if I would like to do overtime and I would like to and get a few extra quid, but when am I supposed to do that?”

After Alan’s diagnosis, the day-to-day responsibilities that he took care of, such as finances and household bills, fell to Karen and her mother Judy.

“When it came to finances, Mum had no idea who her mobile phone supplier was or gas provider because my dad did it all. All the things my dad would have done, he now can’t do so I’m now doing that,” Karen says.

“It’s something you’ve got to do. A lot of my friends are in a similar position, they’ve got parents who need more support now and then they’ve got small children and we can’t leave them on their own and you’re working as well.”

Karen says her parents are in a “decent situation” financially and have a couple of properties they rent out which they are able to gain an income from.

Her mother also receives £76.75-a-week in carer’s allowance.

“I can imagine if I had to give up my job to care full-time then no way would a carer’s allowance allow me to do that. No way at all,” she says.

When it came to the future, Karen says she worries about having the financial ability to provide for her parents with the care they need.

“I just got paid yesterday and my account is overdrawn after getting my pay but I can’t ask my parents to lend me money,” she says.

“Normally, they would be more than happy to help me but now they can’t because they never know if they will need the money.

“You go into a care home and you might have to sell your house and they’re taking all your money. I find that mad that you can work all your life and then you don’t even have enough to leave your kids. It just all goes on care – it’s crazy.

“I totally understand they need to keep every penny they’ve got. Dad might not go into a care home for 10 years or it could be next week. This is the thing you have no idea, it’s really hard to plan.”

While her father, who worked as a chartered surveyor before his diagnosis, does not need external carers or a care home at the moment, Karen says should he or her mother require care she does not know if she would be able to manage it.

“Every time the phone rings and I see my mum’s number I think ‘Oh god something has happened to my dad’,” she says.

“That’s the first thing, you see the number and your heart sinks and you think ‘Oh god what now?’

“He’s not at that stage where he needs carers, but the thing with dementia is it can suddenly get worse at any time, you just don’t know. At the moment he doesn’t drive or go for walks by himself.

“I’m quite practical so you know with dementia it is a one-way street, it doesn’t get better. But at the moment he knows who we are.

“It’s hard for my kids – sometimes my daughter says ‘I’m scared I’ll go to Grandpa and he won’t know who I am’.

“At some point that will happen but while it’s not happening I don’t want to stress about it because it is not happening.

“If Dad needs to go into a care home you are looking at thousands a week which is just insane.

“Another concern is if something were to happen to my mum – does that mean my dad lives with me? If it does, that means I wouldn’t be working because I can’t afford to leave him all day.

“Will that mean paying for care for both of them? If that’s the case then once their money runs out I will have to pay for it. I don’t know if I would be able to manage.”

A government spokesperson said: “Unpaid carers play a vital role in the lives of their family and friends, which is why from April we’re boosting carer’s allowance meaning carers receive an extra £1,500 a year compared to 2010.

“Those in low income households may also be eligible for additional financial support such as universal credit.”

You can read the previous parts of our series here:



Read More: Money latest: Drivers warned ‘psychological shock’ coming from petrol prices | UK

2024-04-18 11:20:38

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