When Tommy Whitelaw – once a successful operator in the pop music business – set off on a marathon walk across Scotland in 2011, he asked carers to send him letters with their stories of caring for family members with dementia. Tommy’s own life had changed course radically when his own mum developed dementia in 2008 and he suddenly found himself a full time carer.
What Tommy found amongst the hundreds of contributions from carers he collected from all over the country was ample and eloquent testimony to the long road ahead for the campaign to address the needs of Scotland’s dementia carers.
Carers spoke repeatedly of
- feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- lack of sleep and feelings of exhaustion
- a sense of despair
- a decline in their own mental and physical health
- struggling to persuade their loved ones to see a doctor
- the sense of bewilderment when confronted with the diagnosis
- the lack of understanding of dementia amongst their local community.
- their uncertainty and confusion about legal issues
- financial worries
- stress on family relationships
There were very mixed reports about the quality of community and residential care services, and many complained of a lack of respite facilities and initiatives to help people with dementia remain active in their communities.
The laudable aims of the Scottish government’s National Dementia Strategy will be put to a searching test by the grassroots reality emerging from Tommy Whitelaw’s unique research.
In the meantime
some organisations that help …
some activities that help…
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