“IF you had told me ten years ago that my mum would be moving in with me I would have laughed my socks off.”
Like most people, Tina Thorpe, 50, never expected to take on the role of carer for a parent as well as juggling motherhood and a full time job.
But this is exactly what happened six years ago, when she realised her mother Emily Phelps needed help looking after herself.
And when in January the 81-year-old was diagnosed with vascular dementia, Tina was forced to ask for a 12-month sabbatical from her registrar post to take care of Emily at home.
Tina is now hoping to shed light on the selflessness and devotion Swindon’s 19,500 unpaid carers muster everyday, by taking part in the Carers Centre’s Walk a Mile in My Shoes challenge on Saturday, to mark National Carers Week.
“I don’t think people realise until they are faced with it,” said the mother-of-one from Oakhurst. “They think it happens to other people.
“The walk will help raise awareness of carers and young carers who step up and are being selfless. It would be wonderful if people could just raise £5 or £1.”
When Emily moved to Oakhurst from Plymouth, she suffered from arthritis, high blood pressure and an underactive thyroid. Her health deteriorated, however, and she was diagnosed with vascular dementia in January this year.
As Emily was recovering from a fall which saw her break her skull in three places on Christmas day, Tina was forced to take a break from work to shoulder this new responsibility.
She said: “There is nothing spontaneous in our house anymore. Everything has to be organised like a military operation. It’s really tiring. You are always looking after them like you would be looking after a baby.
“And I do feel that my daughter ends up taking second place. She is 14 and I try to plan days for just the two of us. Without Swindon Carers Centre’s support, the upheaval would have taken its toll.”
Walkers will set off from the Wyvern Theatre at 10.30am on Saturday. To sign up call Sandi on 01793 531133 or visit swindoncarers.org.uk/get-nvolved/fundraising.