We know that sight loss affects the whole family, so as well as helping veterans to get back on their feet, we offer support to carers and families. We provide what a veteran and their family need to help them discover life after sight loss.
A carer is anyone who looks after a friend or family member and isn’t paid for their help. We know that carers are typically spouses and children of veterans experiencing sight loss. Becoming a carer to someone with a vision-impairment can be a sudden process or it can slowly happen over time as a partner loses their sight due to aging.
Coping with sight loss can be hard for everyone involved, whether that’s the person with sight loss or their carer.
If you care for a blind or vision impaired ex-Service man or woman, Blind Veterans UK is here to help you through:
- Tailored advice and support from Blind Veterans UK’s experienced and qualified community support workers
- Addressing the emotional and practical aspects of caring through sessions at our introduction weeks at our centres in Brighton and Llandudno, North Wales
- Respite for veterans to give family members and carers a well-earned break
- Signposting to other support services
- Providing opportunities to attend social events, carer sessions and meet other carers who are in the same boat
Barbara, who cares for her husband Bob (pictured above), said "The support from Blind Veterans UK has been amazing for both of us. When Bob goes to the Brighton centre I get a little break and can spend some time in the garden. We’re both so grateful."
We asked some of our carers to share their experiences and let us know what being a carer means to them, why it is important and any tips or advice.
Carol, Newhaven, East Sussex (pictured left)
My role as a carer is important because without me, my husband would be in a home as we have no one who could look after him.
Some advice to anyone living with people with sight loss - make sure you don’t leave doors ajar so they can’t walk in to them. The same regarding objects left on the floor... Take up any rugs as they are a dangerous trip hazard. Don’t move furniture around as the blind person gets used to manoeuvring around the house.
Ann, West Sussex
My role as a carer is important as my husband could not cope without me. He would need full time carers which financially would cause us many problems. I don't think he would be so happy and contented away from his home with strangers. As it is, I cope as best I can but with love and happiness being able to continue to care for him for as long as possible. It is not only his sight loss which causes problems but his dementia which causes an extra burden on top.
My advice to anyone living with sight loss:
- Attempt to do anything that you want to - it may not be possible at first but with persistence it is amazing what can be achieved.
- There is so much help available, especially from Blind Veterans UK who foster a 'can do' attitude to life.
- All sorts of things can be done, from long walks to computer driven skills - I know one blind veteran who has built his own website with his family history on it. Gardening is also possible with help from talking gadgets and the same goes for cooking.
- Anything is possible! Believe in yourself!
Jennie, carer of a blind veteran said: "To me my role is to help create as rich and fulfilling a life as possible for the person I am caring for with sight loss; enabling them to take part in as many of the activities which are important and of interest to them. You are not chosen for this situation, it just happens. This unexpected full time free job gives no indication of what it might be, but it teaches a myriad of disciplines at the end of which you are very well qualified with no recognised qualifications. Rich in knowledge. Carers are invisible."
My role as a carer is important because my husband is not only blind but is also disabled due to a stroke. I have to take care of his every need - get him up, shower him, do exercises and then care for him all day, as well as keeping a house running, and make sure he has everything he needs. He is unable to walk but fortunately he can talk and has a good sense of humour.
Here is some advice to anyone living with people with sight loss - make sure that you can share some memories and fun moments each day.
Along with the other millions of unpaid carers in this country - my role as a carer is really important - frequently putting our own health and wellbeing at risk, to care for our loved ones, we also save the government many millions of pounds by giving our services for free.
If your "caree" loses their sight, please be aware that they will become increasingly selfish, and demanding - it's for you to realise that the unkindness and harsh words are not aimed at you - but at the condition. So learn to cry very quietly, they didn't ask or expect to go blind.