Most of us never really see our parents as old people. They don’t have the wrinkles that an elderly person we pass on the street has, nor have they lost their youthful vibrancy.
To us, they are simply mum and dad. Accepting the ageing process for our parents can be as scary and as strange for us as it is for them.
But, much as we hate to admit it, there often comes a time when our parents reach the point when they need some form of extra care and support to help them enjoy a good quality of life.
So what are the options?
Care homes for caring
Putting your parents into a care home can be seen as a very negative thing to do, but I don’t think anyone should be made to feel this way. I’ve worked in some very lovely homes that have a range of activities for residents and some very well-meaning and caring staff. The advantages of care homes are that they have staff available 24 hours a day and meals (or assistance with meals) are provided.
Depending on specific needs, there are two types of homes: those which offer a basic care package to include personal care and assistance with daily living, and those which offer nursing care.
You can also find homes which offer specialised care and support to those with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society provides excellent advice on what to look out for when choosing a suitable care home.
Retirement villages for caring
Retirement villages or sheltered accommodation sites are low-level care providers. Residents have their own flat or bungalow with access to an alarm system or warden if they need any help. They don’t offer care packages, which means that residents are able to choose their own home care providers if they need them.
Some sites also provide a resident communal area and also arrange for activities to take place. If the retirement village doesn’t have a communal area, then your local authority might have information about activities in the area, as well as any available day care provisions.
Assisted living for caring
Some retirement villages operate an assisted living scheme.
Similar to a retirement village, there are flats and bungalows for residents, as well as communal areas. But they also offer on-site care, from regular check-ins and meal preparation through to personal care.
In some cases, they will also offer palliative and end-of life-care, which means that a resident wouldn’t need to suffer the trauma and distress of relocating.
I have previously worked in an assisted living scheme that had a restaurant, bar, post office and a convenience store on site, so plenty to choose from!
One of the oldest and unrecognised forms of care is family care. We never realise how much we care for our own family members because it comes so naturally to us. Our parents were the ones who brought us up, so why wouldn’t we return the favour to them in their twilight years?
Under the Social Care Act 2012, family carers are entitled to an assessment to see if they qualify for financial aid such as carers’ allowance. Most people don’t ever go into this for the money, but a little bit of help can go a long way.
Family carers can also request some form of respite care. This gives them, and the people they care, for a short break for a few hours, a weekend or even a week.
A growing trend is to have home care or domiciliary care.
This means that your parents can remain within their own home, but with a little extra support to help them to maintain their independence.
Domiciliary care offers a range of services, including companionship, meal preparation and support to attend vital hospital appointments.
Home carers can also offer assistance with medication and personal care. Some home care providers offer trained nursing staff to administer medication as well as assist with the more palliative care needs.
You can find home carers through a specific and dedicated care agency, your local authority or individual self-employed carers.
My top tips
When it comes to finding the right care provision for your parents or loved one, it is important to choose a service that suits both you and them:
- Check out all the options and where necessary visit care homes, retirement villages and speak with the home care providers.
- Remember to consider the budget as well. How will the service be paid for? If the local authority has assessed your parent(s) as being eligible for care, then they will carry out a means-tested assessment to determine what they pay and how much may need to be contributed.
- Don’t forget that if your parents have a hospital stay, they may also be eligible for up to six weeks of free care. Again, their needs will need to be assessed but if this is the case then talk to the NHS or local authority about re-enablement services or intermediate care.
Find out more about caring…
Age UK – love later life.
NHS Choices – help for carers to choose care.
Care To Be Different – practical advice about Care Fees, NHS Continuing Healthcare, Care Homes, Care Funding Assessments and Funded NHS care.