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Left alone to care at an advanced age

Posted 03:30PM on Tuesday 07 June 2016

As well as being Volunteers Week, this is also Carers Week. We’re using it as an opportunity to highlight the problems facing older carers who have looked after their adult children with a learning disability since birth.

At an age when most people would long ago have decided to take it easy, Jenni is still caring for her son Martin 24 hours a day. 

Martin is 57 and has Down’s Syndrome and dementia.

Jenni will soon be 92. Until Positive Futures came along, she had only the support of family to keep her going.

Martin’s behaviour and demeanour changes from day to day. He hasn’t been able to go to a day centre for some years now because he needs one–to–one support. He’s an avid fan of Elvis, wrestling and bowls. 

With the support of our Better Futures Project, Jenni and Martin have been able to apply for direct payments. This enables Martin to engage in activities of his choice two days a week. With support, he is able to go for lunch or to his local community bowling club. 

It enables Jenni to get her hair done or simply have some time to herself.

The issue highlighted by Jenni and Martin’s story is the failure of the current system to meet the individual needs of people like Martin.

Jenni says she wishes that planning for Martin’s future had started years ago, and that the system must be more flexible and responsive to need.

At Positive Futures, we have made the plight of older carers a priority. Keep an eye out for forthcoming events aimed at highlighting their situation, as well as the situation of their loved ones who don’t necessarily fit into a neat pigeonhole in the social care system. 

Our Chief Executive, Agnes Lunny, said: “In many cases, older carers are forgotten about. They live isolated, anxious lives and yet they save society a fortune because of the care they provide.

“We have spoken out on this issue before and will continue to do so. It’s the least our older carers deserve in return for a lifetime of love and dedication.”

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