Skip to main content

Alec looks after his 94 year old Mum who has osteoarthritis and has limited mobility. She has also, more recently, been diagnosed with short term memory loss. He has been registered with Islington Carers Hub for a while and came along to his first event, the Carers Wellbeing Day at the end of November.

Alec is now retired, but for 30 years of his working life, he was a ‘roadie’ for big bands, travelling all over the world. The practical skills that are needed for the job, have come in very useful to help his Mum, as a fulltime carer.

How is your Mum these days?

“Up until about 6 months ago, she was getting around alright with a stick and the osteoarthritis came on quite suddenly. She hasn’t been out of the house for 3 years. Her life is quite limited these days and occasionally she gets quite frustrated.

“I care for her fulltime and sometimes it feels as though there are not enough hours in the day. I help her with getting out of bed and make sure she has her pills, then her breakfast and making the beds. She’ll then tell me what she wants in terms of any shopping and so the day goes on!

“I try and help her to keep her brain working. She used to do the word search, but can’t do that so much any more. She likes to watch something on TV with a story or likes to watch the quiz Lingo.

How do you find life as a carer?

“Its just something that came on me and I just accepted. I never got married and when I gave up my travels as a roadie for bands, I took on the role. I go into my room and think about it sometimes, but in my way of thinking, my parents looked after us and it’s my turn to do the same for my Mum now. Some time ago, we gave up our individual flats and got a flat between us, so I could better look after her.

“It’s strange to think that when I was working, I would be on the road for anything up to 18 months, as I was with Pink Floyd, and today my world is very much smaller. I used to ring up my Mum from places like Scandanavia, or wherever I was in the world! I think she was used to the idea of me travelling, particularly as though my Dad was in the navy and royal marines. Travelling around is in our blood!

What did you do as a roadie?

“I used to drive band buses – that’s where they take out the seats and put in a luxurious lounge at the front and bunks at the back of the bus. There was a double decker one for the crew and a single decker one for the bands.

“I’ve been on tour with all sorts of bands. Some of the artists were obnoxious and very demanding, but others were quite down to earth, like the Highway Men, which was an American country music group with Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. My favourite was Dave Gilmore from Pink Floyd – they were really nice people, all of them. They would always come and have their meals with the crew. They didn’t sit separately from us. Some artists like Diana Ross and Madonna were more demanding and very particular about things like how their dressing rooms were set-up and dressed.

“I later drove trucks with all the equipment. We travelled in convoy, never alone, and used to park in a circle at night, parked nose to tail so that the doors of one truck were up against the doors of the one in front. We would travel down through central Europe, across the bottom of Turkey, through Ankara, the Bosporous region, down to Nepal. The band might go from there to the Middle East to tour or they would then fly to Australia or New Zealand and then onto America. We’d send on the kit and equipment in a cargo plane and drive the trucks back to the UK, empty.

Do you get out and do anything for yourself these days?

“I hadn’t gone to anything before and just wanted to see what was available to help and to meet other carers. At the Carers Wellbeing Day, someone gave me a flyer for the events coming up in the run up to Christmas and I’m going to see if I can get along to one of those.

“I can’t leave Mum too often, but I am lucky that my nephew lives nearby and can work from home, so sometimes, if I ask him, he will come round and logon here for a few hours.

How do you protect your Mum from falls?

“When Mum’s mobility became worse, I put in a 24/7 care line. She has a pendant and the wrist-watch version when she goes to bed. It will automatically ring me if she has a fall or needs help urgently.

“I also got her a walker from a list recommended by Occupational Therapist when we had an assessment – a 3 wheeler one is good that will close down to go through doorways. When I was choosing the one we wanted, I looked at reviews on the website Trust Pilot and got the one with the best reviews.

Can your Mum get out at all?

“I am looking to get an updated Occupational Therapist appointment for her to review the aids and adaptations that we have for her. She had one about 5 years ago and they took the bath out and put in a walk-in shower, as well as grab rails for getting up the steps at the front from the bottom level. I think the time has come when we need to have a lift put in. If we had one of those, I could take my mum out, which is something I can’t do at the moment.

“I’m very thankful that our GP from River Place is able to come and visit Mum at home, as she can’t get out to see them.

Helpful information

If you’re looking after someone with limited mobility, you might find the following resources useful:

Islington Carers Hub Helpline: 020 7281 3319 / to help you work out what support might be helpful for the person you’re caring for