Pooja has cared for her husband for 12 years. He suffers from depression and from other health issues and is very dependent on her.
Pooja lives with her husband and their son, his wife and family in the north of England. She and her husband lived a happy life until he suffered a massive heart attack about twelve years ago when he was in his early 40s. Pooja says there was a chain reaction of events that impacted on his health after that. He suffered from memory loss and confusion, which lead to fall and a back injury. Eventually he was diagnosed with acute depression.
Pooja has cared for her husband since then. From being a provider for the family, he is now unable to work, and he is completely dependent on his wife who takes all the routine decisions in the home. He is anxious in social situation and she has to be with him all the time. This leads to tension and they sometimes argue as a result.
It is difficult, Pooja says, for people without first hand experience to understand how it is to live with someone with mental heath problems and they don’t receive much support other than from their children. People keep their distance, she says.
One of the hardest things has been the financial difficulties, and there was no information available about what they were entitled to. Things became a little easier as their son decided not to go to university and instead started to work to help his parents financially. Pooja says living with him, his wife and their baby granddaughter is good source of support.
Pooja says she has become a stronger person in many way as a result of her experiences. She thinks, however, that her own depression that she has been suffering from for some time, is a result of the hard work and emotional strain of looking after her husband. She is taking anti-depressants and she says they are helping. She also suffers from arthritis, asthma and diabetes as well as being anemic, and she is now receiving Incapacity Benefit herself.
Pooja and her husband benefit from taking part in activities at local day centres, and she says her advice to other carers is to find out about such services and use them. She hopes more centres and activities will be available for her and her husband.