There comes a time in many people’s lives when they have to decide on their parent’s future living and care arrangements. Many people choose to place their elderly parent into a residential care home, others might employ a full-time carer, whilst others choose to move their parent into their own home and become the carer themselves.
Everyone has their own reasons for making their decision; it may be that you can’t afford to employ a full-time carer, it may be you don’t like the idea of your parent being in a nursing home or it may be you don’t like the thought of having to cope with the intimate care of your own parent.
Whatever the reasoning for your decision, you need to ensure it’s the right choice for you, as well as your parent. Every decision is hard but for those who choose to become the carer of their own parent, it can have an extremely profound impact and as such there are many things you need to consider before making your final decision.
How much care does your parent require?
You most certainly need to consider how much care your parent is actually going to need both now and in the future. For instance what is their physical condition like and/or do they have a severe mental or chronic illness? It may be that your parent is still relatively healthy and as such doesn’t need too much care from you yet; however, on the flipside they may also require a lot of help.
To know if you are going to be able to cope, you need to know what their requirements are going to be, for instance do they need intimate care? This will include bathing them and helping them go to the toilet, as well as feeding them every meal and beverage and making sure they take their medication.
How involved can you physically be?
Caring for anyone, let alone an elderly parent, is very demanding. You need to make sure you are going to able to give them exactly what they need, whenever they need it. We’re not just talking about love and company either, it’s everything from helping them get up, sit down, go to the loo, bathe, eat, remember their medication and so on.
You need to be very realistic about how much you can and can’t be there for your parent, although this obviously hinges on how dependant they are on you for help. Keep in mind that even if they don’t need so much help now, they may well do at a later stage. This means you need to consider your work, personal and social commitments and how they need to change in order for you to care for your parent in your own home.
Do you need to make any alterations to your home?
A lot of elderly people struggle with stairs, so you may have to consider giving over one of your rooms downstairs to them. Others might be in a wheelchair, so you may have to make some physical alterations to the structure of your house, as well as the entrance to your home to enable wheelchair access.
You will also have to consider the layout and accessibility of your bathrooms and kitchen. For instance, you may have to install grip rails or low shelving to enable your parent to access items they need, as well as move about freely. Obviously another key consideration in all of this is cost…
Is the financial burden all on you?
Many people don’t just take on the care of their parent, but the financial strain of their parent too. Is this something you can afford to do? For instance, if your parent is unable to contribute financially, you will have another mouth to feed and person to buy toiletries for, as well as all their medication and other personal needs such as clothes.
Of course, if your parent is able to contribute, the financial burden may not be as large but this is something you need to talk with them about before moving them in. You should also talk about finances with your siblings (if you have any) and any other relatives who might be in a position to help out financially.
The most important thing is to make sure you are able to survive and continue to give your family what they need without making too many sacrifices, after all your parent wouldn’t want you to struggle on their behalf.
Laura writes for Extra Mile Home Care. When not writing, she can often be found helping her elderly mother untangle her knitting yarn.