Caring for ageing parents. Your home or theirs?

Collage of older people at home

In the UK, the number of people over 70 continues to rise due to demographics and people living longer and the question of how to best care for your relatives is being discussed more given the coverage appearing in the press, television and social media. This can be a worrying and stressful time for all concerned.

There are three main options when it comes to taking care of your elderly parents:
1 They remain living independently in their own home, albeit they may need some additional support to meet this objective. This is most frequently what most elderly parents wish to do. Commonly parents will not want family members performing any personal care. They find it embarrassing or undignified  and it can affect the relationship with their family. They much prefer a trained carer / agency/ nurse to do this sort of care.  They can also get help with managing shopping, cooking or find ways that these tasks are made easier for them – online shopping / meals on wheels / pre prepared meals – or bulk making meals for the freezer – you can find lots of solutions.
The sort of help they do wish for is those tasks that keep them living in their own home – help with managing paperwork, keeping on top of finances/ budgeting making sure they are getting the best deals on insurance and energy bills, looking after family pets or their cars, and maybe help from family when speaking to the authorities, health officials etc. Helping my parents remain independent at home where they wanted to be and also delegate the responsibility out between me and my siblings was partly why I created My Life Pack.
2 finding them a suitable care home to receive the treatment and round-the-clock care they need if they have health issues.
3 or moving them into your own home.

The last option is a big step and will need a lot of preparation, but for some families this is the only available option. Carers UK (www.carersuk.org) is there for the support and information you will need to ensure your home, and busy life, is ready to take on the care of your parent(s). Carers UK makes some points to take into consideration if moving your parents into your home:

  • Be more involved with their doctors, dentists, local authority officials etc.
  • Be prepared for more practical preparation than originally thought.
  • Taking in a parent may require personal/intimate care – research into the correct ways to do this to prevent unintentional harm or discomfort.
  • Think carefully about the impact on your personal life and that of any other family members.
  • Organise alternative care/respite care during the year. You will need a break now and then and will need to know that your parents are being looked after whilst you recharge your batteries.
  • How do you share responsibilities for looking after your parents with siblings or other relatives?

If there are several siblings then a discussion on how to proceed is essential as so often only one sibling ends up carrying out the majority of the care. Some benefits of having your parents in your home in comparison to alternate arrangements:

  • You are on hand to ensure they have nice, safe, warm surroundings.  Visitors so that they are not lonely. And are receiving the right care from doctors, health visitors etc.
  • It’s easier to act as their advocate if they are living with you.
  • There is less financial stress for your parent(s).
  • Travelling to see your parent(s) is no longer an issue and you face less/no responsibility for maintaining their household.
  • You can enjoy their company more frequently.
  • The costs of other care arrangements such as a care home are eliminated but you may have to adapt your home to some extent and your heating and food bills may increase.

If you are faced with working and caring for your parents then Carers UK also has this guide on their website to coping with caring and continuing your career.

This can be quite a tricky subject to discuss within families in order to come up with the best solution. Often the ageing relatives want to stay in their own home even though events, health and circumstances show that this is not in their best interests. Families might not live close by or have the resources to look after their relatives 24/7. So we’ve found that having this discussion well before the eventuality arises about family members no longer being able to be completely independent is the best way forward where possible. Getting the topic out in the open can reduce worry and stress. So often people make assumptions about what will happen when they get older and that is not good for anyone as it can easily lead to misunderstandings. I will write more blogs around this topic in future. In the meantime I’d be interested to know your experiences in this area so please share them below.

Comments

  1. I love Robert Frost. Most notably: Na;#&eru8217ts first green is gold,Her hardest hue to hold.Her early leaf’s a flower;But only so an hour.Then leaf subsides to leaf.So Eden sank to grief,So dawn goes down to day.Nothing gold can stay. Just sharing with you.

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