Our parents bring us up and do everything for us when we are children, so it can come as a shock when they start to require care themselves. We know it will eventually happen, but it can be difficult to deal with when it does. We don’t want to see our parents, who have been strong authority figures throughout our lives, as people who are vulnerable or who need help.
But as people age or develop disabilities, you may have to face up to the situation of needing assistance for taking care of elderly parents.
Here are some tips for the first steps in arranging care for your parents:
It is not easy to have these conversations, but it is important to persist. Explain that you do not think they are safe on their own without support, or that you are worried they are struggling to manage. Persuading parents to accept help can be difficult, but there are ways to lead the conversation so that everybody is open and honest about their hopes and fears.
Read on to find out how to arrange home care for your older parents.
Every person is different, so the care they need must be tailored to suit their requirements. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation, so assessing your parents’ needs is essential.
Part of this assessment is to look at the professional help your parents need. They may want to resist this, but you should present them with options rather than a ‘done deal’. Choices can be made and your parents’ preferences can be accommodated. For instance, looking at at-home carers rather than residential care may reassure your parents that they can remain in their home and be appropriately supported by familiar, friendly staff. Or you may prefer to care for elderly parents at home yourself.
It will be important to make a care plan. This is a document that sets out the support your parents need and it is achieved by requesting an assessment from social services. The care plan will include recommendations on the support that is required and will set out a ‘personal budget’, which is the amount that the council will contribute towards paying for this care.
You will also want to look at informal plans as well as professional help. What can different family members do to help share responsibilities with you, and with any Care Professionals who are brought in? This can be difficult to negotiate as some people will work full time or live further away, so may not be able to contribute much practical help. It is crucial to be realistic about what can be done.
However, even people who are not able to help with practical caring responsibilities could take on other tasks, such as planning, research or organisation.
A big decision you and your parents have to make is about whether they will receive at-home care or whether they will move into a residential care home. While care homes offer more opportunities for social interaction, care at home can allow your parents to stay in their own houses, while still receiving the tailored level of support they need. Find more information about the benefits and downsides of at-home care and residential care homes.
Other available options include:
Talk to specialists and those involved in your parents’ care, such as their GP, any social workers involved or staff at any respite care centres they may have stayed at for shorter periods in the past. What would they recommend?
Talk to your parents, in depth, about what they have planned and how they want their care to be. They will have given this serious consideration and they will have seen their friends and acquaintances receive care; they will have opinions and concerns, and these must be addressed.
People are often concerned about how they will pay for the care they need. The answer is rarely simple and will involve financial assessments and a frank look at what is affordable and what they will be able to contribute.
Another thing to bear in mind is that your parents may need more support from you than you have previously been able to offer, and this could mean that you consider going part-time at work to help to support them. This will not only have an impact on your own finances, it will also affect how much you are able to help them to pay for additional care.
Our Funding Care Guide offers an in-depth look at how funding for care actually works and is a good place to refer to when having these essential discussions.
Can I claim carers allowance for my elderly parents?
You may be wondering if you can get paid for taking care of your elderly parents. You could be eligible for carers allowance, which is worth £66.15 per week (April 2019-2020), even if you don’t live in the same house as your parents. Whether you are eligible of not depends from many factors, from how may hours you spend looking after your parents, to your weekly income.
You can claim carer’s allowance online via the Gov’s website.
Look, too, for charities or organisations that can help. A local charity for elderly people or a national organisation for people with, say, Alzheimer’s disease or arthritis may not be able to offer care support, but they may have support groups for your parents or for their carers – including you – to attend.
You can also consider living aids that can help. For somebody who struggles to walk, a zimmer frame or a walking stick can make a big difference to their sense of independence and ability to get around, while equipment around the house, such as a walk-in bath or a stair lift, can help them to remain happily at home when otherwise they may have struggled.
It can be difficult for families to cope with the changes when caring for ageing parents for the first time. If you have been offering informal care for a while, you may find yourself burning out, and if you expect to provide care in the medium to long term, this is a serious issue that you must consider and prepare for.
Care Professionals can take the pressure off you, providing some or all of the care that your parents need.
By the time a family is considering care support for their older parents, they have probably already been providing care of some kind. Considering having professionals help is just formalising what has already been taking place. Looking at professional care is a difficult shift to come to terms with, but it should be one that benefits everybody involved. Transitions can be tricky, and everybody will need some time to get used to the new normal.
If you feel your emotional health in being impacted by your caring responsibilities, consider taking some time off, if possible:
Self-care is also absolutely vital when you are caring for somebody else. Eat well, sleep well and enjoy relaxing baths or occasional massages when you have time.
You might also contact the following organisations that can offer information or support:
If you liked this article, you may also like our blog about how to prevent falls in the elderly.