How Do You Prepare to Care for Your Elderly Loved Ones?

People in the UK are living longer and as a result, the elderly population has grown significantly. Whilst this is obviously a good thing, it can also create challenges. As you get older, you are more likely to need additional health and social care.

So, what is considered ‘old’?

Typically, anyone over the age of 65 is considered to be an older person. However, this is an arbitrary definition. Biologically, at least, people age at different rates. For instance, someone aged 75 may be much healthier than a 65-year-old. Frailty, not age, is a more accurate measurement to determine an older person’s need for care and support.      

Looking after an ageing loved one can be a long-term commitment and you may find the daily chores to be increasingly demanding as the years go by. You may also need to consider how you can improve the person’s quality of life. If you are not sure what this might entail, this guide will provide some useful advice.     

How can you determine whether your elderly relative requires assistance?

Often, older adults don’t even notice the signs that they need extra help or care. Only those close to them can spot the changes in their behaviour or their diminishing abilities. Ultimately, you will have to decide whether your elderly loved one needs supplementary care.

When trying to come up with a plan of action, you will have to remember that many older adults are ‘set in their ways’. They like to stick to their predictable routine and are usually comfortable in familiar surroundings. One of the reasons they don’t like change is that it makes them feel as if they are losing control. For this reason, it is essential that you are empathetic when discussing the matter with them.

So, how can you determine whether an older person requires assistance? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are they still able to clean and maintain their home? 
  • Do they still eat well?
  • Can they still maintain their personal hygiene?

What are the typical health concerns among the elderly?

As people age, they may start experiencing more and more health problems, such as:

  • Incontinence 
  • Infirmity
  • Poor mobility or falls
  • Increased risk of organ failure
  • Being dependent on a variety of medications

Elderly care entails a multitude of tasks, ranging from helping with daily activities to dealing with specific but severe health concerns. 

How can you help provide elderly care? 

If your relative or friend is beginning to decline both physically and mentally, there will come a point in time when you will need to arrange appropriate care for them. It is therefore crucial that the individual concerned acknowledges the fact that they need some help.

Before you confront the issue head-on, remember your loved one may be reluctant to discuss such a delicate matter. In fact, it is quite understandable if they get upset about the thought of losing their independence. 

However, an open and calm discussion can help both parties come to the correct decision. You will of course need to address any significant concerns, such as how they can manage:

  • Their home
  • Household chores, such as cleaning
  • Climbing stairs (is there a need for a stairlift?)
  • Repairs around the home (is there someone they can call?)   

When it comes to supporting your loved one’s health and their ability to live an independent life, it is essential to include the GP in your discussions as they will be able to:

  •  Run any necessary tests
  •  Talk about potential medical treatment
  •  Contact the local authority with regard to conducting a care assessment

What are your options?

Once you have had a discussion and decided that extra care is needed, you will have to weigh up your options. There are several factors that can influence your final decision. 

  1. Home care

You may wish to choose this option if you don’t want your relative or friend to live in their own home. Usually, this will be better financially for the family. However, you need to ensure that the home used can accommodate your loved one’s changing needs. You will also have to consider the living space for the home care provider.

  1. Live-in care 

This is a popular option these days because your loved one can stay at home and receive personalised care.

  1. Residential care   

This third option is suitable for older adults who may need specialist care and attention. Care homes have been purposely built and designed to provide elderly care. If you want to find out more about a particular facility, schedule an appointment with the care home manager.  

How can the NHS help?

The National Health Service can provide various forms of care support, such as:

  • Housing (e.g., sheltered housing or a care home)
  • Assistance (e.g., a personal alarm in case of a fall)
  • Home adaptations to reduce the possibility of accidents
  • Paid carers
  • Meals on wheels

Conclusion

Taking care of an elderly loved one is a noble undertaking, albeit quite challenging too. Fortunately, there are several options available to you. You could arrange for the local council and NHS to provide social care and support, especially if the person lives alone. However, if they are too frail or poorly, they may need the specialist attention that only a care home can provide.      

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