Three things to think about if you care for elderly parents

Three things to think about if you care for elderly parents

Author: Philippa Thompson

Caring for an elderly parent or loved one presents a number of challenges, both for you and your loved one. You may find yourself struggling with the need to balance caring for your children and your loved one, as well as your job. If you are an only child, or have siblings who don’t live nearby, you may feel that you have nobody else to call on for help. By contrast, if you live a long distance from your parents, you will be experiencing different concerns.

Your loved one is likely to be facing their own challenges including reluctance to accept a perceived, or actual, loss of independence, learning to live with chronic or acute health conditions, and the prospect of having to leave their home to move to residential care.

In addition to the practical side of changing family dynamics, caring responsibilities can take an emotional toll of your relationship with your loved one. It is very common for you, and them, to have feelings of loss, grief, anger, stress, frustration, guilt, anxiety and fear to name just a few.

Taking a proactive approach to the changing needs of your loved one, is an important step in making the transition easier for everyone. In this article we take a look at three key areas for you and your loved one to consider.

Health issues

In 2018 around 18% of GB adults were aged 65 or older, with the prediction that by 2050, 6 million GB adults will be aged 80 or over. This increase will be accompanied with greater need for care - either at home or in residential care homes.

Although we are, generally, living longer, that doesn’t mean we are all enjoying better health. In fact, it means that older people will often be living longer with increasingly complex medical needs.

The health issues and care needs of your elderly parent will include;

  • Increasing frailty
  • Dementia
  • Mobility
  • Incontinence
  • Complex medication regimes

How your relative is affected by any, or a mix, of health issues will impact on their care needs.

Talking about care

The need for additional care can be a difficult topic to raise with your loved one but it is important to do. By encouraging open and honest conversation about the level of care they need to keep them safely independent, you can explore opportunities for care.

It’s important to remember that talking about care doesn’t always mean talking about moving into a residential home. By openly discussing the day to day activities that present challenges, you can make proportionate decisions about what level of help or care is needed.

For example, if your loved one finds it difficult to cook, you can arrange meal deliveries or stock their freezer with healthy meals for them to reheat. Or if they struggle to keep on top of the housework, you could arrange a cleaner.

Wherever possible, decisions about care should be made in conjunction with your loved one. This approach gives them some control over their future and a voice in making plans.

Taking care of the paperwork

It’s not Just talking about care that can be an awkward conversation to start. You might feel uncomfortable asking your loved one if they’ve made a Will, have made financial plans for future care costs or have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place.

However awkward it might be, having those conversations sooner rather than later can save a lot of heartache, worry and cost in the long run.

Taking expert advice about estate planning and care fees can help you and your family to feel confident about how care will be funded when the need arises. You can read more about financial planning for care here.

Similarly, a Lasting Power of Attorney is a vital document to ensure that you have the authority to act on your parents’ behalf if, or when, they aren’t able to.

Asking for help

First and foremost, there is nothing wrong with asking for help to care for your elderly parent. In fact, it’s crucial that you do so if you feel unable to manage on your own either because you cannot adequately meet their needs or because you are struggling to cope.

If you need a break, ask friends or family to step in and provide respite care, or create a care rota to share the load.

If you need help to access formal care, typically your first point of call should be your loved one’s GP. With a rounded understanding of the medical needs involved, the GP will help signpost you to appropriate services for your needs.

Other sources of help are:

  • Care providers (home care agencies and residential homes)
  • Social services
  • Charities

Long and short term care at The Dower House

The Dower House provides excellent residential nursing care for both short stays and on a permanent basis. Residents enjoy the relaxed and homely environment with the ambience of a country-house hotel, with the peace of mind of having a high nursing staff to resident ratio.

Our team understands that accepting the need for, and arranging residential care, is an emotional journey for all involved. They are trained to support you and your loved one with the transition and are experts at helping new residents settle into life at The Dower House.

If you are researching later life and residential care, please click the link to download our guide. Alternatively, to discuss moving to The Dower House, please call 01962 882848 where one of the team will be delighted to help.

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