According to a study in the UK, women are much more affected by dementia than men for a number of reasons. Partly because women are seen as a natural carers for any family members requiring care and partly because women live longer than men. As a result, women are experiencing the emotional and physical stress of caring for others as well as perhaps experiencing dementia themselves in later life. Women often retire early or give up work in order to care for other family members too, losing out financially as well as missing out on the companionship of their work colleagues.
Support for Carers
In the UK:
■ More than 500,000 women are now affected by dementia. About 350,000 men have the condition.
■ Women over 60 are now twice as likely to get dementia as breast cancer.
■ Women are more than two-and-a-half times more likely than men to be carers of people with dementia.
■ Most carers do not choose or plan to take on this role and often find the experience highly stressful.
What can we, in Ireland, learn from this study?
- Women need to realise that they don’t have to do it all, they really don’t have to care full-time for a family member to express their love and show their capability as a carer. They need to recognise that it is fine to get support and help from a regular professional carer, be it on a weekly or daily basis. Professional home carers not only provide care for the client but provide a sounding board and reassurance for family members too.
- Women need to be aware of the importance of looking after their own mental health. It is recommended that regular physical exercise, companionship and mental exertion are all excellent for improving health and for keeping the mind active. Even a 20 minute walk per day and a daily crossword contribute significantly to maintaining physical and mental health.
- Support is important so women shouldn’t be afraid to ask for support from family and friends. It’s important they maintain some element of a social life too and join a group or meet up with friends occasionally. If it is difficult to leave the house, either book a home carer or invite friends in for tea and ask them to bring the cake!
- As individuals living within communities, it’s important we support carers in their role – either offering friendship, chats over cups of tea, lifts to outings or offering to do some shopping for them.
Do you care for a family member? What would help you in your role?
If you would like to talk to us about professional home care, do get in contact with whichever of our 17 Comfort Keepers is nearest to your location.