Tips for effectively supporting your elderly parents

Eventually the time comes to take on the care of our elderly parents. But how could you give them the best care without compromising your own health?
Caring for an elderly parent might be one of the toughest emotional challenges we are faced with in our lifetimes. When the time comes and you need to start caring for your parent, the role reversal of looking after someone who has always looked after you could be emotional, strenuous and at times exhausting.

But when being faced with this new challenge it’s important to remember that, although you may feel it, you aren’t alone. Carers UK states that one in eight adults will care for a family member or friend who is older, disabled or seriously ill in their lifetime. So although you might feel isolated by the strains of caring for your elderly parent, there is a directory of experience and advice on offer to support you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Often it feels as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to properly care for an elderly parent, and if you have a job, a family of your own or any other commitments, it might become difficult to fit everything in. The exhausting role of carer could have a detrimental effect on your own health, too.

During these strenuous times, making the most of your support network is crucial. If you have siblings, consider thinking of a way you could all help with your parent’s care, so that it’s evenly distributed and not overly exhaustive for just one person.

Even if you don’t have siblings, often your own children, your spouse or partner and close friends might be able to support you. Could your spouse or partner go and care for your parent at busy times when it may be more difficult for you to? Could your older children help out by going and cooking for your parent once a week or taking them to doctor’s appointments?

By communicating about any struggles you may be having, it’s likely your loved ones could be more than willing to assist and help wherever possible to reduce your workload when it comes to balancing your own life with the care of your elderly parent.

Talk to others

Again, making the most of your support network by speaking about your worries might be beneficial. If you have friends to call or meet with to chat, you might find that having someone to listen helps when it comes to unloading your thoughts. Their external perspective may also be useful if you need any advice or an opinion on the care you are giving to your parent, too.

In addition to this, when you start to care for your parent, it is important to ensure your social life doesn’t suffer. Spend time with friends, make sure to keep going to your usual hobbies and treat yourself to evenings out with your loved ones, because without these more relaxing times it is easy for your time to become consumed by your care of others.

But also try not to feel guilty for turning down social events or activities. Caring for a parent could be a lot of work, especially if you also have a job and family to look after, so if you feel too tired or busy to go out with friends, don’t feel bad for saying so – they’ll understand.

Take care of yourself

As well as maintaining an active and enjoyable social life, make sure that while you are caring for your parent you also take care of your own health and wellbeing.

If you are caring for your parent in their home, it could be worth having their needs assessed. You might be entitled to help, providing you with more time or days off to relax and focus on yourself.

Age UK advises that the in-home help available includes getting your parent in and out of bed, bathing and washing them, preparing their meals, cleaning, fitting equipment and adaptations in their home and even day centre visits – so getting your parent’s needs assessed could provide you with substantial support when it comes to their care.

Make sure they have a social life too

There are various clubs for elderly people, such as Age UK’s Friendship Centres. These are groups of older people across the country who regularly meet to participate in social activities like bowling, pub lunches, day trips, theatre visits and even short holidays.

Not only are clubs like this a great way for your parent to get out of the house and socialise with other elderly people, but they could also provide you with some extra time to yourself. Additionally, if your parent is well enough to attend these kinds of activities, rather than worrying that they might be lonely in the house on their own, you might rest knowing that they have interacted with other people that day.

Think about moving them nearer

If you find yourself driving miles to visit, pick up or care for your elderly parent, moving them nearer to where you live or work could be an easier way to provide them with care.

If you have the space in your own home, you could have them move in to make it easier to care for them on a day-to-day basis while minimising your travel time and costs. Alternatively, you could see if there are any suitable houses, assisted living flats or even care homes nearby for your parent to move into. Having them nearer could make travelling to spend time with or care for them much easier for you and the rest of your family.

Treasure your time together

When caring for an elderly parent, it’s easy to get bogged down with the strain of providing them with constant care and attention.

Instead, try to make the most of the time you still have together. Although they may be unable to do as much as they used to, just going out for a walk or spending a few hours chatting over a coffee in a café could be a nice way to escape the four walls of their home.

Consider residential care

Although it may be hard, if your parent requires care which is beyond what you could provide, it might be time to consider residential care. Being in a care home should ensure your parent is receiving round-the-clock care, while being surrounded by other elderly people could mean that they aren’t alone for long periods of time.

If you are unsure of whether residential care is right for your parent, your local authority might do a care needs assessment to identify the level of care they need, make recommendations in a care plan and work out a personal budget to ensure that they receive the right care.

Should your parent require residential care, a key concern for many is the costs associated with it. Although you’ll usually be expected to pay towards the costs of care, your local authority might also do a financial assessment to work out how much you or your parent should pay towards their care home fees and how much they might cover. This could help relieve some of the financial burden of putting your parent into a care home.

Protect your elderly parents with Life Insurance

While we might not expect our parents to outlive us, what would happen to them in the event of our own death is a worry to many.

That’s why we offer simple and affordable Life Insurance, which could be used to cover the cost of care for your loved ones if the worst happens. Contact Beagle Street today to discuss your needs with one of our experts, or get a Life Insurance quote online.

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