If one or both of your parents is getting to the stage where they need elderly care, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all.
Perhaps you have noticed they aren’t coping as well as they used to. Maybe they or their home is dirty and uncared for. Or maybe they are having lots of little accidents and you are worried they will hurt themselves eventually. Perhaps they have told you they aren’t coping and need some help.
It is a difficult conversation to have but one that shouldn’t be put off to spare their feelings.
Not only is it an emotional struggle to admit your once strong and protective parent is no longer what they once were, but this is also a time when many of us experience guilt and uncertainty.
Often it feels like there is no right solution to meeting the care needs of your parents. Whether you are constrained by finances, the wishes of your parent, or even the wishes of your other family members, there often feels like a barrier exists to finding the perfect solution.
Below are the top 5 questions to ask yourself when you are considering the options for elderly care for your parents.
For each of the options available, be it home carers, residential or nursing homes, or even having your parents live with you, ask yourself these 5 questions to help you make the best decision.
The safety of your parent/s is paramount. After all, you are making the decision to bring in some more support because you are worried about their safety and wellbeing.
Sometimes we compromise on safety to keep our parents in their own home. But if your parent is at risk, no number of daily visits from home carers is going to ease that situation much.
Whatever path you take, your parent’s safety and wellbeing should be of utmost priority.
Loneliness is a danger to a person’s mental and physical wellbeing, as this Psychology Today article points out.
If the solution you are looking at, such as a residential home, isolates your parent/s from their community and family you might need to consider an alternative.
Keeping your parents within an easy travelling distance to their social life and support network is important for their overall wellbeing.
If your parent is already isolated and lonely, as many seniors are, it might be the case that living with you, or very near in a stand-alone property, is the right solution.
If your parent has a mental condition, such as dementia or Parkinson’s, it is important you factor in the likely prognosis.
Elderly people who suffer from a neurological condition can often be more affected by change than people who are mentally healthy. It is worth making sure any solution minimises the changes.
If you are adapting their home, for example, consider putting all the elements, such as grab rails and wet rooms, in place at the beginning, ready for when they are needed.
Choose a residential home that also has a nursing facility so the transition is smooth when the time does come and your parents need a little more help.
If you are making this decision of behalf of your parent, the burden becomes double as, in many cases, you don’t know what they would want you to do. This is especially true if your parent can no longer rationalise the decision.
You might be tempted to go along with their wishes in lieu of their safety and wellbeing just to make them happy.
When trying to figure out what to do, ask yourself what they would have advised or done themselves 10 or 20 years ago.
We learn decision making skills and values from our parents. It is easier than you might think to give yourself the advice they would have given you.
Elderly care is expensive. It can quickly eat through savings and assets. Whatever option you choose, you need to be sure it is financially sustainable.
There is little point paying for the finest care money can buy only for the funds to run out in 3 years and leave you stuck in an impossible position. It can tear families apart, ruin careers, and leave people struggling with debt for years to come.
Choose a solution that is sustainable in the long term.
It is worth speaking to your local council or social services to find out what financial support your parents are eligible for and what they will need to pay out of pocket.
These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when choosing a care arrangement for your parents. You might also need to consider the wishes of your siblings or partner. There might be pets involved, or even safeguarding issues to be taken into account.
The local council is a good place to start as they can advise on the options in your area. If you live in the UK, you can find the contact details for your local service here.
Where do your parents live? Why? How did you/they choose the place? Is it a good place for them? How do you evaluate that? Please share with our community and let’s have a conversation.