THIS week is Carers Week and the Dorset Echo is taking an in-depth look into the world of the tens of thousands of known carers in the county.
The very nature of caring – being there for a loved one facing ill health or disability – means too often people don't at first, or sometimes ever, identify themselves as carers and, therefore, miss out on support.
Today we take a look at what it is like for those who are trying to get on with their lives after caring for a loved one.
“THERE is always a burden of guilt” – and that is why one woman living with a loved one in care says life is so difficult.
Enid Evans’ husband Bill, 85, was diagnosed with dementia 14 years ago.
He went into a care home last October when Enid could no longer care for him.
Before then, she cared for him at their home in Charlton Down, near Dorchester, but struggled because of the rural location.
She has spoken out about the lack of support for those who have partners already in care and about how she finds it difficult to ‘get on with life’.
The 76-year-old said: “Even now he is in care I still cannot think of myself as a person.
“People say ‘you are free now’ – but there is a constant burden of guilt.”
She is now setting up a support group for those people with a loved one in care in the county.
She told the Echo: “Without choice I now belong to a huge group of people all ages and genders who are alone. We are ‘The Forgotten People’ with partners in care. After being my husband’s carer for over 13 years, I suddenly lost my identify.
“When he first went into care my own isolation lasted 10 days, I did not venture out of my home.
“My despair and feeling of failure was overwhelming.”
She added: “With my own restrictive health problems and Bill’s mental incapacity there is no way I could look after him again.
“There is nothing out there for former carers. I decided to set up a support group for people in my situation.
“My aim is to start in Dorchester and then across the whole of Dorset.”