‘Inspiring’ Emma from March who cares for mum with Alzheimer’s disease is finalist in Carer of the Year Awards

Emma and her mum Maureen

Emma and her mum Maureen - Credit: Archant

An “inspiring carer” from March who supports her elderly mother with Alzheimer’s disease while suffering from a serious heart condition herself, has been shortlisted for this year’s Carer of the Year award.

Emma and Dr Wendy Harrison

Emma and Dr Wendy Harrison - Credit: Archant

Emma, 50, who lives in March, was nominated by her friend, Dr Wendy Harrison. She praised Emma for putting her mum’s needs first and thinking of creative ways to support her.

She said: “Emma has had two lots of open heart surgery and a heart transplant assessment in the last six years.

“Despite her physical disability she cares for mum, finding imaginative ways to cope, such as playing the piano when she is distressed or taking her out for a drive in the car.

“What really makes Emma unique is the way she constantly enables her mum to keep her dignity.

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“She doesn’t do everything for her, she stands alongside her talking her through tasks and supporting her to complete them, even though that takes longer.

“She protects her from embarrassment and advocates for her.”

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The judging panel said: “This is a carer with a big heart evidenced by the extra support given outside her primary caring role. Thoughtful and enabling, I found this nomination inspiring.”

Emma, who has cared for her mother, Maureen, 82, for seven years, said: “I am stunned as I really didn’t expect to win. Caring has taught me to live in the moment with mum.

“There’s a saying ‘take one day at a time’ but when someone can’t remember what happened even a moment ago, then every moment has a value. The emotion of an event remains after the event is forgotten.”

Emma attends to her mother’s personal care and encourages her to be as independent as possible, but says she is frequently exhausted, due to her heart condition.

“Mum is very agile, she is physically much fitter than me, but she can’t link together the processes we take for granted to complete tasks.

“For example, she cannot make herself a cup of tea, but, if I direct and prompt each stage then she can achieve it.

“Her greatest problem is about not recognising what objects are anymore and losing the language to express what she wants to say,” added Emma.

Last September Emma started learning to play the piano, with her mum clapping and dancing along to the tunes or accompanying Emma on a set of electronic drums.

“I don’t always get time to practice but this is about redrawing my life map, about learning something new within my own physical limitations and achieving something for myself; it’s the one thing I do for me, a way of looking after myself.”

Emma has a break from her caring role when her mum attends a day club on Mondays and Tuesdays at the Trinity Church, March which caters for people with care needs.

“Mum loves it there. Quite often those hours are taken up doing the things I can’t do when mum is at home.

Emma said it was “a tremendous morale boost” to be a shortlisted finalist for the Carer of the Year award.

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