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A Guide to Caring for Ageing Parents

Before diving into arranging care for your elderly parents, take a moment to really think about what they need and how you can pitch in.

Get Your Parents Involved Your folks are the ones who know best what they need. Try to loop them in on the planning and decision-making process as much as possible. But hey, let’s be real—these talks can be tough. They might be hesitant to admit they need more help, especially if they're worried about losing their independence. Don’t worry, we’ll share some tips later on how to broach these conversations gently.

Don’t Procrastinate Putting off sorting out care for your parents is tempting. It’s not exactly fun to face up to the fact that they're getting older and need more support. But if you notice they’re struggling, it’s best to act sooner rather than later. The longer they go without the right help, the higher the chance they’ll end up needing emergency care after a fall or something.

Figure Out What You Can Handle Before you start making big decisions about your parents' care, think practically about what you can realistically manage. It depends on stuff like:

  • How close you are to your parents
  • Your job and family situation
  • Whether you can afford private care For example, if you live far away and work full-time, it might not be doable to help them out with daily stuff like getting dressed or making breakfast. But if you’re nearby and have flexible hours, you could offer more hands-on support. And remember, look after yourself too. Don’t take on too much and burn yourself out. Your well-being matters just as much.
A Guide to Caring for Ageing Parents

How to Have that Heart-to-Heart with Your Parents About Their Care

Alright, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: having that initial chat about taking care of your aging parents can be tough. They might feel weird about the idea of their kid looking after them, and you’re probably feeling a bit awkward too. But, it’s super important to have an open and honest convo with them before any big decisions get made. Here are some tips to make that talk a little easier:

1. Pick the Right Moment
Timing is key, my friend. While it’s better to start planning sooner rather than later, you don’t want to just dive into this chat randomly. Find a good time to sit down with your folks and really talk about what they need and want. Set aside some decent time for this—definitely not something you wanna rush through. If you can swing it, it’s usually better to have this convo face-to-face, without any distractions like the TV or phones buzzing.

2. Check in with Your Feels First
Let’s be real, this conversation isn’t a walk in the park. You might be feeling all sorts of emotions before you even start. Don’t shove those feelings under the rug. Take a sec to acknowledge them before you dive into the talk. Once you’re aware of what you’re feeling, it’ll be easier to have a calm discussion.

3. Keep it about You, Not Them
Instead of listing off all your parents’ issues (“You’re forgetting stuff, falling a lot, shouldn’t drive anymore, etc.”), try flipping it to “I” statements. Let them know how you’re feeling, like “I wanna make sure you’re comfy as can be” or “I noticed the stairs are getting tougher for you.” And try to keep your tone chill, focusing on facts like “Last week, you had a fall,” rather than getting all emotional.

4. Ask, Don’t Dictate
This chat ain’t a one-way street. It’s about you and your parents hashing things out together. Rather than just giving advice, ask open-ended questions like:

- How do you feel about…
- Any worries on your mind about…
- Would it make you feel better/safer if…
And make sure you hear them out about their plans and wishes too. Have they sorted out a will or thought about covering care costs? Would they be open to moving if they couldn’t live independently anymore? What about assisted living or residential care? And if they’re not keen on a care home, would they consider a live-in carer or regular home visits?

5. Be All Ears
Above all, listen up. Give your folks a chance to share their thoughts, plans, and wishes. If you show them you’re really listening, they’re more likely to hear you out too. Repeat back what they’ve said in your own words to make sure you’ve got it right, and give them space to correct you if you’re off base.

Remember, empathy is key. As worried as you might be, your parents are probably even more concerned about their well-being, even if they don’t show it.

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Assessing Your Elderly Parents’ Needs

When it comes to understanding what your aging parents require, especially after a sudden change like a fall or medical emergency, it can be overwhelming. Breaking it down into manageable steps is crucial. Here’s how:

1. Make a Comprehensive List
Begin by documenting all the tasks your parents need assistance with on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You can further categorise these tasks based on daytime and nighttime needs or by specific areas such as hygiene, medication, mobility, and nutrition.

2. Track Their Requirements
Keep a log over a week or more noting each time your parents need support. Record the nature of their needs and the timing. This process will provide you with a thorough understanding of their care requirements and routines.

With this detailed list in hand, you’ll gain a clearer perspective on the type and frequency of care your elderly parents need.

Arranging Care for Your Elderly Parents

Once you’ve discussed your parents’ needs and have a comprehensive understanding, it’s time to begin organising their care. If you’re taking on the role of caregiver, there are steps you can take to streamline the process:

Needs Assessment
If your parents require assistance from council-funded services, they will need to undergo a needs assessment. This evaluation is free of charge and available to anyone. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Request an Assessment
Arrange an assessment through the local council’s adult social care team. Booking can typically be done online or by phone.

2. Prepare for the Assessment
A social worker or occupational therapist will conduct the assessment at your parents’ home. Help them prepare by anticipating common questions and providing accurate information about their needs. A checklist, such as the one provided by Which?, can be beneficial. Additionally, the task list you created earlier will serve as a valuable reference during the assessment.

3. Attend the Assessment
If possible, attend the assessment to advocate for your parents and ensure their needs are fully understood. It’s essential to provide detailed information, especially if your parents tend to downplay their requirements.

Sharing Responsibilities
Assuming the responsibility of caring for your elderly parents is significant and can quickly become overwhelming. Avoid overburdening yourself by considering the involvement of other family members or local support networks:

- Coordinate with siblings or relatives who may be able to assist, even if they are unable to provide hands-on care. They can support with tasks such as financial management or administrative responsibilities.
- If family support is limited, explore community resources and neighbours who may offer occasional assistance or check-ins.

Remember, sharing the responsibility can alleviate the burden and ensure your parents receive the comprehensive care they need.