I’M not sure I can watch the BBC’s new one-off drama, Care. It looks promising, and should expose some uncomfortable truths, but for me it is too close to home.

The programme, about a woman whose mother develops dementia, highlights the heartbreaking and terrifying reality for families when their world is torn apart by an illness that is often shrouded in mystery.

Starring Alison Steadman and Sheridan Smith, Care is the story of Jenny, a mother-of-two raising her girls alone, who relies on her widowed mum, Mary, for help with childcare, so she can work full-time at a supermarket.

When Mary suffers a stroke, leading to dementia, Jenny finds herself suddenly responsible for looking after her mum, as well as her daughters, and can no longer carry on working. She soon realises she has a fight on her hands when it comes to getting the best care for her mother, and has some tough choices to make.

Care, inspired by the experiences of Gillian Juckes, who co-wrote the 90-minute drama, on BBC1 on Sunday, looks at the reality of life for carers, and the effect on family dynamics, as well as failures in the system for people like Mary living with dementia in our communities.

In the UK, women make up 70per cent of dementia carers - and 20per cent go from full to part-time work to do it.

I juggled a fulltime job with helping to care for my mum, who had early onset dementia in her fifties and gradually lost her sight, speech and ability to walk, as well as her memories. She spent her final years bedridden, barely able to move.

We were able to keep her at home, thanks to a good homecare package, but that didn’t happen overnight, and for a couple of years we were left floundering, practically ignored by GPs. Bradford Council wouldn’t issue a blue badge - despite Mum falling over regularly and being so terrified of putting one foot in front of another that she screamed in public - and one care organisation I contacted simply sent a leaflet.

Awareness of dementia has now improved, but carers are still struggling to get the support they need, and often their own wellbeing suffers as a result. Last week a group of carers, from teenagers to pensioners, spoke about their experiences at an event in Bradford for Carers Rights Day. Satveer Sahota, who cares for her mother round-the-clock, said: “People assume I am strong and can cope. I am mentally tired.”

The event, organised by Carers’ Resource, allowed carers to highlight concerns to representatives from health and social care organisations. By giving professionals a better understanding, hopefully agencies can work together to improve the lives of carers, and those they care for.

Alison Steadman’s portrayal of a woman with dementia - her loss of language, her confusion, her haunted expression and the way she lashes out at those closest to her - looks all too familiar to me, as it will be to thousands of others left to cope when a loved one is struck with this brutal condition. I hope this drama will raise awareness not just of dementia, but of what carers go through too - the exhaustion, frustration, loneliness, grief and desperation.

In the UK 6.5 million people are unpaid carers for a loved one who is older, has a disability or is seriously ill. As Carers’ Resource says, “the system is complicated, and the issue is hidden”. Becoming a carer can happen to anyone, but without the right support, carers are at risk of falling ill too.

* We should all be trained to use vital life-saving skills

THE last time I learned any First Aid was over 10 years ago. Before that, it was doing my First Aid badge at Guides. All I remember is trying to put ‘Resusci Annie’ into the recovery position and reading up on what to do if you sink an axe into your leg at Guide camp...

I keep meaning to refresh First Aid skills but, like clearing out the loft, it’s on life’s backburner.

A new online training scheme aims to create a “life saver on every corner”. Launched by Ilkley-based Virtual College (virtual-college.co.uk), it teaches skills like CPR and how to deal with choking. Watching this 40-minute video could save a life, or help someone until medics take over. First Aid training for staff is something all workplaces should take on. We never know when we’ll need those life-saving skills.

* Meaningful gesture of the humble Christmas card

IT does irk me when people announce, rather smugly, that they're "not doing Christmas cards this year."

Usually it's because they're "giving to charity" instead. I suspect the real reason is because they can't be bothered to buy, write and send any cards. Have they not hear of charity Christmas cards?

I find it quite sad. At this time of year, sending a handwritten card to someone - showing them that you've taken the time and effort to think of them - is a very meaningful gesture.

Sending and receiving cards, and popping them through the letterboxes of friends and neighbours, is one of the lovely rituals of Christmas. Bah humbug to those who don't send them.