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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 00:40 GMT 01:40 UK
A carer's 'isolated' world
There are more than six million carers in the UK
Research has shown that two-thirds of carers in Britain receive no support at all and that this shortfall can lead to health problems, depression and exhaustion.

BBC News Online spoke to one carer about her experiences.

Alison Purseglove, 48, from Somerset, has cared for her husband, Ian, without support for the past 18 years.

Mr Purseglove, 58, was born with haemophilia, the treatment for which caused hepatitis resulting in a liver transplant.

Alison Purseglove : says she feels isolated
Alison Purseglove : says she feels isolated
As well as being crippled by the disease he has also had cancer and diabetes and he is blind in one eye.

Mrs Purseglove said: "I care for my husband for at least 20 hours a week without any support whatsoever.

"I am responsible for giving him intravenous injections and other such treatments and I have no professional medical training at all.

"On many occasions Ian has been discharged from intensive care in hospital straight to me.

A problem shared

"My GP isn't interested and there is no support from district nurses.

"I feel very isolated. It does get you down and you feel that you are a horrible person because it gets you down.

When you are tired, depressed or exhausted you feel it is your fault

Alison Purseglove
"And when you are tired, depressed or exhausted you feel it is your fault."

Mrs Purseglove believes her life would be dramatically improved if she had the opportunity to meet other people "in the same boat."

"Nobody understands how you feel," she said.

"Even friends and family judge you. Many turn round and say 'well, it's not his fault he is ill' and just expect you to get on with it.

"People's attitudes often stop you asking for help. The only people who understand how you feel are other carers.

"I think sharing your experiences with other people is even more important than respite, which for me has never been a prime concern."

See also:

16 Oct 01 | Health
Carers lack vital support
14 Mar 00 | Health
'Carers suffering more illness'
08 Feb 99 | Health
Funds 'to care for the carers'
04 Mar 99 | Health
Health burden of young carers
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