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My experience of caring for mum

Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, Sir Tony Robinson, is a well-known actor and presenter. Perhaps less well known is that both of his parents, Leslie and Phyllis, died with dementia.


With first-hand experience of caring for loved ones with the condition, he has spoken out at Parliamentary receptions and backed many Alzheimer’s Society’s campaigns such as Putting Care Right, as an Ambassador for the charity. Back in 2006, he also made a powerfully moving documentary, Me and My Mum, about his mother’s care.

Sir Tony is passionate about ensuring that the voices of people with dementia and their carers are heard and ensuring that the lives of those living with the condition are improved. After tireless effort campaigning, the actor, presenter and writer was awarded the honour for public and political service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2013.

Sharing his own experiences of caring for his parents with dementia, he says: “With both my parents having had dementia, I’m only too aware of the challenges a carer may face. My mum was well known for her bright and fiercely independent nature. This was something I had always admired and even following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, I passionately wanted to help her preserve her vibrant personality.

“She had excellent support from some wonderful health specialists and a family who were more than happy to help. She was able to stay at home for much longer than would have been possible had she been forced to fend for herself.

“For anyone concerned about their memory or the memory of a loved one, I would encourage them to visit their GP and contact the Alzheimer’s Society Helpline for advice.”

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Home » Carers » My experience of caring for mum
Your Later Life 2020

Dealing with bereavement and grief as a carer

Helen Walker (pictured)

Chief Executive, Carers UK

Everyone feels and reacts differently to becoming bereaved. There is no right or wrong way to deal with how you feel about this. 


COVID-19 has meant that some carers are having to face the loss of the person they looked after, maybe under very difficult circumstances.

Grieving will feel very different  right now, as carers are not able to reach out to others in the ways they usually would, and support services are not all operating as normal.

In the immediate aftermath of losing someone, there are usually many practical matters to deal with, from registering the death to organising the funeral. It can feel like your emotions are on hold.

It may help to break these tasks down, listing them in order of priority and ticking them off once completed.

Carers will experience a whole range of emotions, especially if this signifies the end of their caring role.

Consider a memorial service

The way funerals are taking place at the moment may not be the way you would want to say goodbye to someone.

You might want to start planning a memorial service or gathering for those unable to attend. That way, you know that everyone who wants to say goodbye can, and you have a chance to celebrate their life as you normally would have done.

Understandably, you might feel too upset to face these tasks. If you feel able to, tell the people around you what you need from them and how they can help.

There are professionals who can support you.

Expect unexpected emotions

Everyone feels and reacts differently to becoming bereaved. There is no right or wrong way to deal with how you feel about this. 

As well as the emotional pain of losing someone they love, carers will experience a whole range of emotions, especially if this signifies the end of their caring role.

Your feelings could range from relief at having more time to yourself, to guilt at feeling that way, to a desire to make some big changes, to feeling exhausted, alone and unable to do much at all.

Feeling free to acknowledge these complex emotions can be an important part of coming to terms with your loss.

Sometimes it can help to share your feelings with a close family member or friend or you could turn to a bereavement charity such as Cruse Bereavement Care or Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Support.

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