Carers Support Meetings
Our support meetings help Carers connect with each other to share a better understanding of the effect of Dementia on the person themselves and on those caring for them.
Meetings give Carers the opportunity to swap stories and talk about their own experiences firsthand, and provide a friendly space to discuss the emotional, physical and social challenges they encounter on a daily basis.
Mayo Support Group Meetings
1st Wednesday of the month:
Ballina – Ballina Family Resource Centre
Contact 094 93 64900 for more info.
Galway Support Group Meetings
Tuam – Ard Ri Hotel, 2nd Tuesday of the month, Time: 7pm to 8.30pm. Walk ins are welcome
Galway City – Cumasu Centre on the Doughiska Road, Galway (1st Tues of month) 7.30pm to 9pm
For further information contact Mary Murphy:
091 565 193 or 087 127 2840
Carers Stress Management
Looking after yourself is just as important as looking after your loved one!
Becoming a carer can impact on:
- Personal life
- Social life
- Physical health
- Emotional health & wellbeing
- Financial situation
The types of stress we encounter as carers are:
- Anxiety about the future
“What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?”
- Depression that begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope
“I can’t do this anymore”.
- Exhaustion – hard to complete daily tasks
“I’m too tired to do that”
- Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed
“I know she’ll get better/stay as good as she is”
- Anger at the person displaying symptoms
“If she asks me that one more time I’ll scream”.
- Social Withdrawal from friends, hobbies
“I don’t feel up to meeting them”.
- Sleeplessness caused by over-thinking
“What’s that noise, is he getting up?”
- Irritability that triggers negative responses & actions
“I said I’d do it. Can you not wait 2 minutes?”
- Lack of concentration
“What time did we say we’d meet?”
- Health problems – mental and physical
“Every part of me aches – I can’t remember the last time I had a laugh.”
Now that we can recognise ‘stress’ in our caring role, we need to consider ways of supporting ourselves, of caring for ourselves.
Some ‘Tips for Stress Management’ include-
- Learn relaxation techniques and strategies (therapy, mediation, support groups, relaxation CDs)
- Plan for the future
- Give yourself credit (not a hard time).
- Be realistic; you can only do your best.
- Care for your own health – GP visit; be mindful of sleep, diet and exercise
- Talk to people who understand – support groups, helplines etc
- Get help with care – respite options, paid and unpaid help, family & friends.
- Give yourself time – allow time to grieve, to adjust, to come to terms with things.
- Recognise the early signs of stress – don’t reach crisis/burnout point
- Know what resources are available in your community
- Become an educated carer – attend training, information days etc
- Make legal & financial plans
Don’t lose touch – make time for friends, hobbies
How to Ask for help?
There are different types of ‘help and support’ available when caring for a person living with dementia.
Formal Supports include:
1. Carer’s Allowance
- When an individual needs full-time care (continuous supervision).
- Carer must live within a reasonable distance (20mins).
- Carer cannot be employed, self-employed, do voluntary work, training or any education courses for more than 18.5 hours a week.
- Means tested – if you are single, €350 of your gross weekly income is not considered in the means test for Carer’s Allowance. If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting the first €750 of your combined gross weekly income is not taken into account.
- If carer is in receipt of another Social Welfare payment e.g. State Pension, they keep this and get “half rate” carers.
- Payment of -Under 66 years: €224/- per week; over 66 years: €262; half rate: €102/-.
- To apply: fill in application form (social welfare offices); can take up to 16 weeks to process, but payment is backdated.
- Dept. of Social Protection – 043 334 0000 or visit Carer’s Allowance (citizensinformation.ie)
2. Carer’s Support Grant
- The Carer’s Support Grant is automatically paid to people getting Carer’s Allowance in June each year.
- In June 2022, the Carer’s Support Grant is €1,850.
- It is not taxable.
- If you are not getting the Carers Allowance, you should fill in an application form for each person you are caring for. – CSG 1 (pdf) Carer’s Support Grant (citizensinformation.ie)
3. Carers Benefit
- Carer’s Benefit is a paid to people who leave work or reduce their hours to care for a person in need of full-time care.
- To get Carer’s Benefit you must be under 66 and have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions – see ‘How to qualify for Carer’s Benefit’ below
- You can get Carer’s Benefit for 2 years (104 weeks) for each person that you are caring for.
- You can take the 104 weeks all together or any number of separate weeks up to a total of 104 weeks. However, if you claim Carer’s Benefit for less than 6 weeks in a row, you must wait another 6 weeks before you can get Carer’s Benefit for the same person again.
- If you are caring for more than one person, you can get a payment for 104 weeks for each person. If the care periods occur at the same time, you will get an increase in your Carer’s Benefit for caring for more than one person -see ‘Rate of Carer’s Benefit’ below.
- If you get Carer’s Benefit, you can also get a GP visit card.
- You may also get a Carer’s Support Grant. It is a payment made once a year to carers. It is paid on the first Thursday in June each year.
4. Homehelp, Homecare Packages, OT, Physio – apply via GP or Public Health Nurse
5. Fair Deal Scheme
- You can apply for financial support to help pay for the cost of care in a nursing home through the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, also known as the Fair Deal scheme.
- Under Fair Deal, you pay a certain amount towards the cost of your care and the HSE pays the rest. Fair Deal covers approved private nursing homes, voluntary nursing homes and public nursing homes.
- When you apply, your care needs are assessed by the HSE to confirm that long-term nursing home care is the most appropriate option for you.
- Your financial situation is also assessed by the HSE to see how much you can pay towards the cost of your nursing home care. The HSE then pays the balance between what you pay for your care and what the nursing home charges for providing that care. Your assets, such as savings and property, are taken into account when assessing your financial situation.
- There are 4 steps to the Fair Deal application process:
- Step 1: Fill in the application form
- Step 2: Care Needs Assessment
- Step 3: Financial Assessment
- Step 4: Apply for a Nursing Home Loan (this step is optional)
- For further information click Fair Deal Scheme (citizensinformation.ie)
6. Counselling In Primary Care (CIPC) – 6 sessions; GP referral for those with a medical card
Informal supports include family, friends and your wider community.
We’re all so good at asking for and receiving help, aren’t we? The truth is, most of us are not and the reasons why vary. The most common obstacles to asking for what we need are thinking:
- I don’t need help.
- I should do this.
- I don’t want to bother anyone.
- Asking for help makes me look weak/lazy/incapable/selfish….
- It won’t be done right.
But for every thought that blocks us from asking for and receiving the help we both need and deserve, there is a counter thought that will help us access the support we need.
I don’t need help. If you think you don’t need help, I challenge you to ask yourself, what’s not working for you? Are you not getting enough sleep, or exercise? Are you cutting corners at work? Do you wish you had more time, with your spouse, kids, grandkids or friends? Guess what, you could use some help.
I should do this. If you think that you should be the one to do all of the caregiving tasks, know this, should is someone else’s value system playing in your head. When we act on our “shoulds” instead of our wants, it leads to resentment and burnout. Write down every single thought that starts with the word “should.” I should spend more time with my mother. I should be more patient with my father. I should keep my siblings better informed about what’s going on. I should be a better daughter. Once you think you’ve listed them all, think again and add some more. Now, take that piece of paper with all of your shoulds listed on it and rip it up. Instead write down what you want – for you – and act on it. No one else knows why you make the choices you make – nor do they need to
I don’t want to bother anyone. If you don’t ask for help because you don’t want to bother anyone, know this, asking for help is an act of strength and generosity. Think about it. Your friends and family want the opportunity to support you. They may feel helpless watching you struggle as a caregiver. Be generous and give them the opportunity to help you.
Asking for help makes me look weak/lazy/incapable/selfish, etc. If you worry about what asking for help says about you, then ask yourself this, what are you gaining from taking on all of the burden? Do you like getting sympathy from others? Are you uncomfortable sharing the spotlight? Does your caregiver role make you feel special? Do you think you don’t deserve joy without suffering? Be honest with yourself.
Now, make a list of all of your great qualities. Notice that you are wonderful for many reasons and that how much you take on as a caregiver doesn’t define you.
It won’t be done right. If you don’t ask for help, because you think no one else can do what I do/as well as I do it, that might be a true statement. But so what? A job completed is still a job completed. Sometimes we need to accept good enough.
Make a list of the tasks you do as a caregiver, and then identify a few that don’t require perfection. Maybe you’re not ready to give up attending doctors’ appointments because you want to make sure you get all of your questions answered, or you don’t feel comfortable asking anyone else to help with money management and bill paying. But are you really the only one who can clean the house? Does it really matter if someone else buys the groceries and brings home the wrong brand of paper towels? It does not. Let it go.
Now that you’re more aware of why you don’t get the help you need and deserve, think about where you can get some more support. Your siblings are not your only option (and may not be an option at all. Friends and neighbours may be willing, and want, to help. Your employer may be open to giving you some extra support at work in the form of EAP programs, a flex schedule or a change in assignments. Your local council on aging or senior center may have resources you can access. Support groups offer emotional support and of course, there are services you can hire, to ease your load.
Tip: Be prepared to accept help. Keep a list of all of the things you wish someone would help you handle. Also, keep post it notes, thank you cards and stamps in your bag at all times. The next time someone asks, “How can I help?” choose an item from the list, note their name next to it, give them their assignment on a Post It, and send them a thank you* when you have some downtime.
So, you have secured help now it’s time to make a plan-
- Be specific – you would like help on a certain day at a certain time.
- Manage expectations- do not expect your ‘helper’ to provide the same level of carer as you provide yourself! Do not set them up to fail, write down some clear instructions and reassure them that you will not be far away.
- Be flexible- do not stop the help coming because of a clash in the diary! Afterall we are only human.
- Be honest- if more support is offered accept it, let them know you are tired and could use the extra help.
- Don’t be shy!