A young Bridgend woman has been named Young Carer of the Year in the Netwatch Carer of the Year awards.
Aine Grant, from Dundrain, cares for her mother, Nuala (58), who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The 19-year-old was previously named Young Carer of the Year for Donegal on November 1, and was awarded overall Young Carer of the Year at a ceremony in the Westin Hotel in Dublin last week.
She told the ‘Journal’ she was ‘delighted’ with the accolades.
Aine was nominated by her mammy’s good friend, Annette Duffy from Buncrana.
“Annette worked with Mammy and has known her for 20 years. They would still meet up and I’d take Mammy to see Annette and collect her.
“From that, Annette nominated me and it was lovely and a great surprise.”
In her nomination, Annette described Aine as ‘young person with such maturity and dedication to her family, especially her mum, who immediately assumed a leadership role within the family when her family needed support.’
Aine first became a carer for her mammy when she was in her Leaving Certificate year at school.
Nuala was given an official diagnosis in May 2018, but prior to this, the family was aware she had early-onset dementia and now Alzheimer’s Disease.
When Aine left school, she decided to take on the full-time caring role.
“I don’t mind doing it at all,” she said.
“I take mammy to appointments, give her medication, get her up in the morning and get her washed and fed and everything else we have to do.”
She said she gets ‘brilliant support’ from her father, Liam and older sister Niamh, who works in Letterkenny. Aine has another sister who works as a primary school teacher in London.
Aine told how the award ‘gives you a wee boost to keep going and let’s you think that maybe you are doing a good job.’
She outlined how there ‘isn’t very much’ outside support for carers, never mind young carers, in Donegal but is hoping to attend a young carers group in Letterkenny in the near future. She told how more and more people across the county and country are becoming carers.
“Dementia and Alzheimers is becoming a lot more common. It is something people mainly associate with older people but that’s not it at all. A lot of people are now diagnosed really young and I’ve been told that when someone is diagnosed young, it is not uncommon for them to deteriorate quicker.”
Aine attended the ceremony in Dublin with her sister, Niamh and boyfriend, Leon.