Widower shares experience as '˜hidden carer' looking after his wife

Michael Hydon didn't sign up to be a carer, but when his wife Julie's health began to deteriorate, taking care of her was his number one priority.

Michael and Julie Hydon on their golden wedding anniversary SUS-160906-130156001
Michael and Julie Hydon on their golden wedding anniversary SUS-160906-130156001

The couple lived in Fernhurst, and Michael dedicated much of his time to caring for Julie until she died peacefully at home in 2011.

“The caring role can creep up on you,” he said.

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“But you just get on with it, don’t you? It’s what you do if you love someone.

“We were very happy. However, she had severe osteoporosis with some bad fractures and digestive issues in addition that caused her to continue to lose weight, in spite of me cooking three hot meals a day.”

Now Michael is continuing to share his own experience – including offering tips for carers – during National Carers Week in the hope that others will find the vital support they need.

He added: “I can meet carers now in that situation and quickly understand how they’re feeling. They deserve all the support they can get.”

There are an estimated 84,000 unpaid carers in West Sussex.

Caring can involve various tasks, such as physical care, personal care like washing and dressing, managing medication or providing emotional support.

For some, doing this for a spouse, relative or friend can mean they do not necessarily see themselves as a carer – yet approximately a third of ‘carers’ aged 65-74 provide 50 or more hours of unpaid care every week.

Carers Support West Sussex is on hand to provide help and guidance to anyone caring for someone else who depends on them.

They are particularly keen to hear from men who are facing pressures similar to those experienced by Michael, but have yet to come forward for the support to which they are entitled.

“I’d say I was a ‘hidden carer’ for some time and was unaware of Carers Support West Sussex,” he revealed.

“When the penny dropped that I urgently needed information and support, I discovered that there was a carers group meeting in Midhurst and joined it.

“I wish I’d done that much earlier.”

Peter Catchpole, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, added: “Michael’s determination to support carers is admirable, and we hope his story will encourage more people in West Sussex to reach out for support.

“If you are a carer and would like support, please contact Carers Support West Sussex by calling 0300 028 8888 or visit www.carerssupport.org.uk.”

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