Steps to take when ageing parents need support
It’s not easy seeing your parents growing older. Many see their parents as their strength and people they admire. Your mum or dad may have always lived independently, spent their time looking after you, and taken on the house responsibilities. But as we age, our muscles and bones begin to weaken and age frailties can limit us from carrying out specific tasks. So, support is needed.
However, it can also be difficult for parents to admit when they need help. After all, no one really likes to be told they are ageing. If you feel overwhelmed with questions, here are a few steps to consider when deciding what is best for your parents.
Assess your parents' needs
Sit down and make a list of what your parents need support with. They may need help with medical support, mobility or personal care such as bathing and continence issues. Or perhaps you may not live close by and they may benefit from having a live-in carer who can support them with nutrition and companionship. Or they may need help with the weekly food shop or picking up the prescriptions.
Once you have assessed their needs, decide how much they can cope independently and whether you can help. If you are unable to visit as much, consider having a carer visit your loved one a couple of times a week or stay with them 24 hours a day. Whatever you choose, make sure your parents are happy with the decision too.
Think about your own needs and abilities
It’s important to consider how involved you would like to be in your parents’ care. We understand that you may have work or family commitments. It is natural to feel guilty, however, you must take care of yourself too. Here are things to consider:
- Distance – Do you live nearby to visit regularly, or would you prefer to live with your parents?
- Health – Are you fit and healthy to look after your parents?
- Work/lifestyle – Do you have family and work commitments?
- Carer – Can you provide care, or do you need a carer?
Always include your parents in the process
It’s essential to keep your parents in the loop. After all, they are the ones that need the support and their opinion matters.
It is always a sensitive topic when it comes to admitting that you need support, especially if you’ve always lived independently. So, explain that having help and care at home doesn’t mean they will lose their independence. It ultimately enhances their lifestyle. Plus, they don’t have to relocate to a residential care home.
It would be best to show your parents that you are working with them and not trying to take over. It may take a while for them to understand; you just have to be patient.
Take care of home safety basics
Homes are more than just buildings; they are treasure troves. It’s a place full of comfort that makes us feel calm and relaxed. However, it is essential to ensure that your parents stay safe in the place they love.
As we age, it takes much longer to recover from injuries, so prevention is the best way forward. Here are a few home safety basics that will prevent a trip to the hospital:
- Ensuring rooms, hallways and especially stairways are well-lit will give your parents the confidence to move around the home safely, be more aware of their surroundings, and reduce the risks of slips and falls.
- Installing grab rails in the bathroom can provide the support your parents need when going to the toilet. They can also be installed in the shower or bath for extra mobility support.
- Make sure rugs and mats are fitted properly
- Ensure garden pathways and rooms are free of clutter. For example, no newspapers lying around and avoid overflowing bookshelves and cupboards.
Make communication as easy as possible
If your parents are living on their own, make sure they have access to a phone or smart device to call their loved ones. Interaction with friends and family has a positive impact on their well-being. Video calls can also be made using a smart device, allowing your parents to see their loved ones. It also benefits individuals who are unable to travel.
Consider your financial situation
If you are looking to arrange private care for your parents, it is important to consider costs. Will you be paying for the care? Or are your parents financially independent?
Depending on your parents’ circumstances, they may be eligible for care funding from the NHS or their local authority. This can include Pension Credit and Attendance Allowance, which can help with living costs. If you are caring for your parents, you may also be eligible for Carer’s Allowance. So, it’s worth exploring as there are benefits available that can lessen the financial burden.
Establish a routine
Having a routine gives structure to the day and provides a sense of accomplishment. It will also help reduce stress and anxiety as your parents will know what is happening in the day and what is planned. It also helps maintain their independence and improves sleep.
Having breakfast, lunch and dinner at set times can help with routine. Incorporating activities such as a walk around the park and carrying out their favourite hobbies will also benefit them. Sit and discuss with your parents what they enjoy doing and incorporate it into their routine.
Keep in contact with health professionals
If your parent is living with a specific condition, keep in touch with healthcare professionals. It would be best if you also tried to assist them to their medical appointments so that the doctor can monitor their health. This way, the doctor can advise accordingly if there has been any change in their symptoms.
Learn the basics of being a carer
If you are considering becoming a full-time carer for your parent, then it’s important to know what skills are needed. Responsibilities can include supporting with meal preparation, running daily errands, assisting with personal care and much more.
Social services can also carry out a health and social care assessment to see what help and support you may need to assist you. This can include equipment and home care support.
Explore available ageing care options
If you are unable to look after your parents, live-in and visiting care is available from Helping Hands. Our compassionate and friendly carers can give your parents the support they need to live an independent life at home without compromising their routine.
Our carers can help manage household duties, including the laundry, washing, and taking out the bins. They can also take your parents out to explore the community. So, whether it’s a trip to the café for brunch or a visit to the local library, our carers will be the ideal companion for your mum or dad.
For more information on our person-centred home care services, contact our customer service advisors today. Our carers will genuinely make a difference.
Page reviewed by Carole Kerton-Church, Regional Clinical Lead on February 13, 2023