Navigating the Practical Challenges of Caring for the Elderly: A Guide for Families

When it comes to providing care for an ageing parent, there is a wide range of conflicting emotions that can be experienced.

As a parent becomes older and begins to find caring for themselves a little bit harder, one of the solutions that you might consider is asking them to move into your family home so that you can help them with their increasing care needs. This can be particularly challenging for those with a younger family and can put the household under considerable strain.

Despite the strains this may place on their families, many people still choose this option to avoid the alternative of moving their parents into a residential care home. One of the reasons that they may choose to do this is the cost of care home fees. This is not an easy decision to make and it takes effort and hard work to maintain a healthy balance between ensuring the health and well-being of the parent and family life.

Who Cares For The Carer?

Caring for an elderly parent whilst juggling family needs can be a physically exhausting role. It can also be a situation that, at times, can be draining and emotionally charged. There are a number of complex and difficult practical challenges that may be difficult to overcome.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common practical challenges that you may encounter when looking after an elderly parent.

Financial challenges of caring for an elderly relative

There can be additional costs if you take on caring for your ageing parent in your own home. You may find that you are using more electricity and the bills for your heating and other utilities will increase. This is particularly true in the colder months, and these additional costs can really add up. You will also need to factor in food, toiletries, and additional cleaning materials.

Depending on the care needs of your elderly parent, you may need to take into account the cost of taking time off work or giving up work altogether. It may be necessary to make adaptations to your home, such as moving a bedroom downstairs or adding a stair lift, making a more accessible bathroom or even improving access to the outside of your property. You may also need to sell your parent’s house, which can be an emotional drain for both parties.

Some elderly people want to retain much of their independence

Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to admit that they are getting to a point in life where they need a little more help. Whilst it may be evident to those around them that they are starting to struggle with some of the day-to-day tasks, a strong desire to hold on to their independence will see them denying that there is an issue. This can often be the case even when being unable to manage simple tasks might put themselves and those around them in danger.

Driving is a prime example of this. For those who have been advised to stop driving for reasons of safety, it can be hard to come to terms with this loss of independence. It is important to have honest conversations with your elderly parent in advance so that you are both aware of each other’s feelings regarding elderly care options.

Adapting your property to suit an elderly parent

Our homes are our own personal spaces, decorated and furnished to our own unique styles. When you need to make adaptations to your property to fit with the needs of another person, even though they are your parent, it can be something you might find difficult to reconcile yourself with. If, however, your ageing parent is looking to remain in their own property and receive home care services, then many of the adaptations that they may need can be accessed via the NHS for free with a referral from an occupational therapist.

Health issues for your elderly parent

There are a number of health issues that can affect your parent as they get older, and some of them can cause aggression and unpredictable behaviour, such as dementia. This can be difficult for younger children to process, and it may become necessary to protect them from this sudden change in behaviour from a person they know and trust whilst also explaining that they still love them and that this behaviour is often something they have little control over.

There are some strategies that can be used to help minimise some of these behaviours and also cope with behaviour that can be difficult. While care can be provided at home for people with dementia and other issues causing difficult behaviour, there will often come a point where specialist care is required such as in a dementia care village.

Combining a range of care needs

If you are caring for your own children, or even grandchildren, as well as looking after an elderly parent, then it can be a hard balancing act. There are so many factors to consider, and you only have so much energy and time. Young children can find it difficult if they no longer have as much of your attention as they have been used to, and this may mean that they will act up in order to receive more attention.

There are many practical challenges that you might experience if you are caring for your elderly parent, and these are just some of them. There are benefits as well, so it is important to consider all of the factors that can be involved, not just in the immediate future but also further down the line. Look into all of your options and ensure you consider all of them. Having a professional carer come into the home to assist can offer you the best of both worlds, allowing your loved one to remain in a more familiar home environment but with the help that they need to continue to do so.  

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