New Year care conundrum




14 February 2014

Alongside paying off credit card bills and fighting flab, new research reveals another lingering effect of the festive season- the realisation that elderly parents may be in desperate need of home care.

Figures released today show a spike in enquiries for home care for the elderly - a situation explained by the fact many families will have witnessed a deterioration in an ageing parent`s general health after seeing them for the first time over the Christmas period after weeks or months apart.

It is only when families are thrown together for an extended period that subtle (and sometimes significant) changes in ageing parents’ behaviour can become visible.

Trevor Brocklebank, Chief Executive of Home Instead who have released the data, said, “It’s a fact that the changes can develop gradually so the older person doesn’t recognise what’s happening. It is often the children who spot the differences, particularly if they haven’t seen their parents for a month or two.

“Children may notice that mum’s memory is not what it used to be and that she is asking questions repeatedly or relaying the same story over and over again.

“Perhaps dad isn’t sure on his feet or a condition such as arthritis is stopping day to day activities.”

The figures revealed by the at-home care company show a 29% per cent increase in enquiries for their services during the January period.

Speaking about the findings, Professor Jill Manthorpe, Professor of Social Work, Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London, said, “Family members play a vital role in persuading parents that support is there and that they will often feel happier with it. Family members not only instigate but play a major role in making and paying for care arrangements – they know that they often have to tread carefully not to cause offence.

“In our experience home care companies are really sympathetic to family concerns and will want to talk about the best way to make support acceptable. The more relatives can help in liaison and encouragement to get a good support plan in place the better for all concerned.

“The crux of the issue is that we are living longer, that minor or major disability will affect many people, and most older people want to stay at home. The majority of adult children these days don’t have 4 or 5 siblings to share the load and with many more couples working, support in the home, be it companionship or personal care, becomes necessary but is also welcome. Sometimes it is easier to get a little support early on and then build it up, rather than waiting for a crisis to happen.”