When it comes to providing care for an ageing parent, a wide range of conflicting emotions can be experienced.
As a parent becomes older and begins to find caring for themselves a little bit harder, one of the solutions that you might consider is asking them to move into your family home so that you can help them with their increasing care needs. This can be particularly challenging for those with a younger family and can put the household under considerable strain.
Despite the strains this may place on their families, many people still choose this option to avoid the alternative of moving their parents into a residential care home. One of the reasons that they may choose to do this is the high cost of care home fees but that is far from the only reason. It is not an easy decision to make because of the emotional impact. It also takes effort and hard work to maintain a healthy balance between ensuring the health and well-being of an ageing parent and your own family life.
Before making any decision, look into all the options and ensure you carefully consider all of them – try not to rush the decision. Care homes are not the only option. Increasingly older people are opting for care in their own home either with a carer who visits daily or live-in care can provide the best of both worlds. Live in care allows your elderly parent to remain in their own familiar home environment but with the help that they need.
Consider the following challenges if you do decide to care for your parent in your own home…
Who cares for the carer?
Caring for an elderly parent whilst juggling a home can be a physically exhausting role. It can also be a situation that, at times, can be draining and emotionally charged. There are a number of complex and difficult practical challenges that can be difficult to overcome.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common practical challenges that you may encounter when looking after an elderly parent.
Financial challenges of caring for an elderly relative
There can be additional costs if you take on caring for your ageing parent in your own home. You may use more electricity and the bills for your heating and other utilities will increase. This is particularly true in the colder months, and these additional costs can really add up. You will also need to factor in food, toiletries, and additional cleaning materials.
Depending on the care needs of your elderly parent, you may need to take into account the cost of taking time off work or giving up work altogether. It may be necessary to make adaptations to your home, such as moving a bedroom downstairs or adding a stair lift. You may have to make a more accessible bathroom or even improve access to the outside of your property. You may also need to sell your parent’s house, which can be an emotional drain for both parties.
Some older people want to retain their independence
Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to admit that they are getting to a point in life where they need a little more help. Whilst it may be evident to those around them that they are starting to struggle with some of the day-to-day tasks, a strong desire to hold on to their independence will see them denying that they are struggling. This can often be the case even when struggling with simple tasks puts themselves and those around them in danger.
Driving is a prime example of this. For those who have been advised to stop driving for reasons of safety, it can be hard to come to terms with this loss of independence. It is important to have honest conversations with your elderly parent in advance so that you are both aware of each other’s feelings about care options.
Adapting your property to suit an elderly parent
Our homes are our own personal spaces, decorated and furnished to our own unique styles. When you need to make adaptations to your property to fit with the needs of another person, even though they are your parent, it can be difficult. If, however, your ageing parent wants to remain in their own property and receive in-home care, then many of the adaptations needed can be accessed via the NHS for free – with a referral from an occupational therapist.
Health issues for your elderly parent
There are a number of health issues that can affect your parent as they get older, and some of them can cause aggression and unpredictable behaviour. This can be difficult for younger children to process. It may become necessary to protect children from a change in behaviour from a person they know and trust – plus explaining that they no longer have control over their behaviour.
However, there are some strategies that can be used to help minimise some of these behaviours and also cope with difficult behaviour.
Combining a range of care needs
If you are caring for your own children, or even grandchildren, as well as looking after an elderly parent, then it can be a hard balancing act. There are so many factors to consider, and you only have so much energy and time. Young children can find it difficult if they no longer have as much of your attention as they have been used to. This may mean they misbehave in order to receive more attention.
There are many practical challenges that you might experience if you are caring for your elderly parent, and these are just some of them. But, remember there are benefits too so it is important to consider all of the factors that can be involved, not just in the immediate future but also further down the line.