Thursday, July 25, 2024

Local carer cannot get help for her mother (80) and sister

ONE Mullingar wo-man, who is a full-time carer to her sister and 80-year-old mother, has this week, spoke out to Topic against the current mental health care system, and pleaded passionately for help.
Anne Dunne has to give a lot of time to her 80-years-old mother.
She said that the stress of the present situation and the way the system has failed her had now reached tipping point, and she was worried about who can care for her family if she is unable to do so.
When Topic spoke to her this week, she was seriously stressed, pleading for assistance, but of the view that no one was willing to offer her the help she needs and should have.
“I’ve been a full-time carer since 2009. My dad passed away in March 2012. He lost both his legs in a fire in 2009 and was in St. James’ Hospital for three months. I was working as a carer prior to that, doing private community work.”
Anne’s father and mother have cared for her sister Fiona who suffers from a severe psychological condition since she was 14. This has rendered her unable to look after herself, for her entire life. “I am familiar with the HSE services from being a carer and even before I became a carer,” Anne told Topic.
Anne herself has health problems, as she suffers with Fibromyalgia, a rheumatic condition characterised by searing muscular pain and tenderness throughout the body.
“I started getting mild symptoms about 15 years ago. Stress is the biggest trigger and I wouldn’t have had the level of stress I have these days back then. It first began when I felt pain in my leg and I wasn’t able to walk properly. I remember going to Casualty and being admitted to hospital.”
Anne said the condition then began to effect her whole body in alternating areas. “I would just get this stabbing pain out of the blue like a knife turning in your stomach, which was really scary. There were times when while I was walking from the bed to the bathroom I would fall to the floor. They use sedating drugs like Lyrica for pain spasms but this is a very strong drug.”

“I can’t take medications like that because I am a full-time carer 24/7 to my mother and sister and I have to be alert at night time. My mother is 80 and on sleep medication because she can’t sleep without it and she is not fully awake when she gets up sometimes, so I have to be there,” she told us.
Fiona is also the only driver in the house meaning she has to take her mother and sister to all their appointments, while also ensuring there is food on the table and the housework is done. It’s a nightmare scenario some of the time, one that she doesn’t deserve to be facing.
“There are a lot of clinic appointments for my mother and my sister, up to five a week and they are public ones where you are sitting for hours and hours and your whole day is gone, waiting, waiting.You have GP visits, bloods and they are all in Mullingar and Tullamore. I’m getting the groceries, getting the prescriptions and then it’s back to the chemist to get the prescriptions filled.”
She said that her sister’s behaviour has recently taken a turn for the worse resulting in her mother being on the receiving end of severe verbal abuse. “My mother is living here in fear because of her behaviour but the services are not there to help her (my sister).”
Anne said that Fiona currently visits a private psychiatrist on Saturdays and said that due to this, her sister had no access to the public mental health service. “This doesn’t make sense because a lot of people have to see psychiatrists privately, not through choice and they still need access to courses etc.”
Fiona previously attended the National Learning Network (NLN) however, after her behavourial symptoms flared up and she no longer goes there. “I had to drive her over and back to Longford every day despite a bus passing through Rathowen, which I feel was due to my sister’s history at St. Loman’s even though the other people on the bus also had behavioural issues. The excuse was there wasn’t funding. I have no one to talk for me. The mental health services don’t tell you about services that are outside of the Green Road such as support groups and courses that they are affiliated with. You are turned away at the door. That’s not right. These services are there for the people.”

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