Simple steps to take when older parents need care
It is quite natural to worry about parents as they get older and less able to do things, and with some form of lockdown restrictions still being in place it can be difficult to make regular visits to give reassurance and check whether your parents needs are being met.
It is important during this time for your parents to stay safe and healthy, so there are instances where you might need to find new ways of doing things when you have concerns.
Adhering to the social distancing with a loved one on a practical level, throw up many challenges, and often making decisions can be overwhelming. Here are a few ideas to help make those steps easier:-
Assess your parent’s care needs
Caring for a parent can feel overwhelming, because you’re not sure exactly what needs to be done. To help you think about this, take a step back to understand how much help your parent’s need with everyday life to live at home safely.
Consider the following key areas:
- What support the family might be able to give
- Safety in the home
- Are there any immediate medical needs
- Cognitive health
- How is their mobility
- Personal Hygiene
- Mental Wellbeing
- Spiritual needs
As you focus on those key areas, think about how much support they are already getting in and how much help they realistically need to stay safe and healthy. It is worth at this point writing everything down, so you can keep a track of their needs and figure out what extra support might be needed.
For example, let’s say your Dad is managing diabetes and heart disease, he has no family close by, lives in a fairly isolated area and doesn’t enjoy cooking for himself. If you don’t live close by, then you may want to think about introducing a home care provider who can provide care services such as cooking a meal a day for him and provide medication and companionship.
Think about your own needs and abilities
Taking on a parent’s care is a very big step, so before you make the assumption that you can take care of all of your parent’s care needs, stop and think about your own situation. We are all at different stages in our lives, so think about the commitment that you will need to make, over and above the daily activities and life in general.
- Does your own health allow you to physically care for someone?
- Do you live close enough to visit as often as needed?
- Do you have the kind of relationship that allows you to spend a lot of time together without creating a lot of negative feelings on either side? Caring for a loved one, can alter the dynamics of a relationship!
- Do you have the personality to provide the type of care they need?
- Are you willing to learn how to provide that care?
You want your parents to be safe and healthy, but being pragmatic with your thinking at this time is the best approach. It is not selfish or heartless to conclude that you are not the right person for your parent’s care. It is best to be honest with your assessment of your own situation.
Including your parent in the process
It is very easy to feel concerned about losing independence, which is why it is important to involve your parents as much as possible with the planning and decision making. Having a 3rd party involved in these discussions can also be useful, which is why the team at Friary Care are always happy to come and meet your parents and chat with them about the support they might need in the future.
It is natural that there might be some resistance in the first instance and broaching the subject might take multiple conversations. However, drip feeding information about the support that is available is always a good plan, tied in with an opportunity to meet directly with the care support team.
Understanding the financial situation
Talking about the cost of care is never going to be an easy conversation, so introducing the topic right from the beginning is always a good idea. Don’t forget to include all of the additional costs of care, like any home safety modifications.
Arranging a meeting with a specialist financial advisor to discuss the financing options for your care plans
You may also want to talk through your care planning with specialist financial advisors, that are qualified individuals to provide financial advice as you get older. Financial advice can be daunting at the best of times and even more so when it comes to planning in later life. The Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) help individuals and families in finding trusted accredited financial advisors who understand financial needs in later life. You can find more information about SOLLA here https://societyoflaterlifeadvisers.co.uk/
Home safety basics
Basic safety prevention can go a long way to ensuring your parents stay independent for as long as possible. Simple fixes and taking preventive steps to address things around the house that are likely to cause older people to trip, fall and hurt themselves.
- Make sure floors and walkways are clear of clutter
- Add grab bars in the bathroom and stair handrails can help
- Update lighting, so all rooms are bright and switches are easily accessible
- Ensure all appliances work well and are within easy reach
- Review storage spaces and minimise the need to use steps / stools or to bend down low
- Avoid wearing footwear like slippers that don’t fit and could be a hazard
Can they contact you easily and quickly?
Being able to contact you or another loved one easily is a simple way to ensure your parents feel safe. Having a landline or mobile phone close to hand can help them call for help or keep in touch with friends and family when they need to.
Make sure their phone is easy to use and accessible. A phone with pre-programmed numbers in their pocket is reassuring and easier to get to.
Exploring your care options
There are a many things to consider when reviewing the care for a parent, but at some point you may decide that using a care provider is required.
Finding the right care for your parents is a very personal decision. You may decide that moving into a care home is the best option. But equally, finding a provider that can provide care within your parent’s home surroundings might be a good option in the short-term.
Testimonials and reviews provide great reassurance for families looking for a quality home care provider whose experience and values align with your needs.
To speak to us in more detail about your circumstances and find out more about the care and support Friary Care can provide, please get in touch with Peter on 01305 787811.