Caring for your ageing parents by yourself can be one of the hardest things you ever have to do, especially if you have other responsibilities, such as work, or a young family to look after too. There are a lot of financial implications to consider, as well as emotional and these need to be thought through extremely carefully before any care decisions are confirmed.
Since people in the UK are living longer, it is becoming harder for the state to be able to afford to fund each and every person needing care. This means there is added pressure on families to fund their parents’ care, or for friends, neighbours and relatives to take on the roles of ‘casual’ carers themselves.
What issues can I expect to face as my parent/s get older?
1. Are they still able to live in their own home? If not, can they afford to pay for personal care, or a care home? Alternatively, if they can’t afford this, is the pressure now on you to deliver full-time care to them?
2. What are the financial implications? You need to find out if you are going to need to sell your parents’ home in order to pay for their care. You must also consider whether you are able to care for them full-time, in which case how much money are you going to lose and can you afford to live if you give up your job to care for them full-time?
3. Are you going to be able to juggle the responsibility of caring for your parents, on top of the responsibility of looking after your own family? This needs much consideration since it can be very difficult for young children to understand why their parents are now distracted and can’t give them as much attention.
4. How does your parent/s feel about the situation? Many elderly people refuse to accept the fact they need care and it can be a very stressful and upsetting time trying to get them to accept this fact. Since having care will mean they will be losing a lot of their independence and privacy, try to be patient and understanding and encourage them to come round to the idea in their own time.
5. If you are one of many siblings, it is important to hold discussions about your parents’ care options together; else you may find there is conflict later on. The last thing you want is to take up all the responsibility, whilst no one else has any. The final decision about care should always be a mutual one.
6. Think practically. Remember that caring for the elderly will often involve personal or intimate care. You need to be ready for this and make preparations for others to provide your parent/s with this care in case you are ever unavailable. Also think about whether you are physically capable of providing full-time care. For instance, if your parent is much larger in body than you are, are you going to be able to help them up from bed, to the toilet and to the bathroom safely?
7. Think about yourself. It is really important to think about where you are in your own life and if you can handle everything that comes with caring for your parent/s. For instance, are you coming up to retirement and looking forward to going travelling with your partner? Have you just accepted a big promotion at work? Are you and your partner struggling to find enough time to share together as it is?
All of the above need to be seriously thought out if you decide to take on caring for your parent/s full-time. This is not to say you shouldn’t do it. It is merely to point out the pressures and stresses that can come with caring and ensure you are fully aware of what you might be taking on, so you have no regrets later.
If you do take the decision to become carer to your parent/s, don’t ever try to do it alone. You need to make sure you have the full support of your family, as well as make sure you make contact with experts in the health sector, i.e. your parent’s GP. Make sure you give yourself regular breaks and if you ever need more support, contact a society such as, Age UK, Carers UK, the Alzheimer’s Society or Dementia UK.
Laura writes for Extra Mile Home Care in London. When not writing, she can often be found taking care of many people of all different ages.