Taking Care of an Elderly Relative: Your Options

Man helped by his daughter

Unfortunately, getting older is simply a part of life, and the inevitable decline that happens, as a result, is often unavoidable. There often comes a point when your elderly relatives can no longer live unassisted. This could be because of a decline in their mobility, eyesight, hearing, mental process or long-term illness. You have a few different options. You can either get them home help, have them move in with you or even consider a care home for them. Trying to work out the best course of action can be a challenge, especially if your relative is reluctant to receive help. Having the decision-making process be collaborative between you and your relative can help.

Care Homes

One of the more popular options is a care home. However, your relative will need to be agreeable to moving into a care home, and they will also need to be able to afford the home too. Care homes are a great option for somebody who lives alone or is otherwise isolated for whatever reason because there are a lot more opportunities for socializing. The level of care is obviously also higher because the staff work round the clock, and they take care of everything.

The constant staff presence and the security of the building are also a benefit for those with relatives who are suffering from cognitive disorders and frequently wander away from their homes and get lost. The staff is also made up of a huge range of people with different skill sets. They have cleaners and cooks to take care of the rudimentary chores, and then they also have qualified care professionals, including nurses, which ensure that medications are being delivered properly and that the health and wellbeing of the residents are a priority.

However, while there are a number of benefits to choosing a care home for your elderly relative, there are also a few other factors that you should be aware of. Unless they have had some input in the decision, your relative might feel abandoned when placed into a care facility, especially if it is against their wishes. Some people do thrive in these conditions because they are freed from a lot of the tedious domestic labour that they have been doing previously. However, there are those that do experience a decline, seemingly as a result of being freed from these jobs and tasks that have actually helped to keep their minds sharp. The last thing to consider is the cost, some care homes can be incredibly expensive, and often the cost does correlate to the quality of care as well.

Home Help

If your relative wants to retain some independence and continue to live in their property, then there are a few options when it comes to home help for you to consider. The home help that you opt for will depend on the level of care or help that you feel your relative will need. Home help, in general, is more geared towards facilitating independence as opposed to providing care. At a minimum, home help can include things like cleaners or meals on wheels.

At the lower end, there is companion care. This represents the least amount of care and help, whereby a person simply comes to keep your relative company for a few hours here and there. They do not provide any medical services, help or intervention, but they do often run errands or do some light housework. If you are your relative’s primary carer, then you might also want to look into respite care. This is where you occasionally hand over care duties to a carer to give you a break when you need it.

Next, there is personal care. All people deserve to be treated with dignity, and they have a right to privacy. If your relative is struggling to perform their personal care tasks for whatever reason, then personal care home help might be just what they need. These caregivers have had more training and have more qualifications in caring for an individual. The carers at this level tend to perform basic medical care like supervising medication, changing dressings, or dealing with colostomy or catheter bags. They can also help with bathing and dressing too.

Caring For Your Relative In Your Own Home

If you want to have your relative move into your home so that you can care for them, then it is likely going to be necessary for you to adapt your home a little for them to make things easier and more accessible. These adaptations do not necessarily have to be big or costly. Firstly, you could start by improving the lighting. Natural light is the best, but artificial light works just as well. In addition to improving visibility, it can also be used to establish your body’s circadian rhythm.

Speaking of visibility, creating clear contrasts can also help; choosing block colours that stand out from the background ensures that they are going to be seen. You should also consider decluttering to remove any unnecessary trip hazards or other health and safety concerns. Tidying away your favourite trinkets also means that they will not wind up being broken accidentally too. Try to stay on top of the housework.

In addition to these tips, there are also several pieces of equipment or practical adaptations that you might want to consider. Depending on the size of your house and how often your relative will be alone in the house too. The first things to explore are telecare equipment. These are things like alarms and sensors which alert you to different events like movement, falls or even incontinence. Sometimes, the local authorities can affect which telecare services are offered in your local area; although you are still likely to be able to find them privately online, they may cost more.

There are other adaptations that you might want to consider too. Ideally, you should house your relative on the ground floor to avoid falls and trips where the stairs are concerned. After that, it is worth considering the different rooms in the home. For example, one of the rooms that can pose the biggest risk to the ageing population is the bathroom. There are a number of hazards to consider, from slips and falls to scalds and even damage to the bathroom itself from flooding. This is why it is worth considering the installation of rails, walk-in showers or baths, thermostatic taps and safety plugs. The NHC Group specialize in equipment used to adapt homes for the elderly; they offer mobile hoists, bathroom equipment, beds and even medical accessories.

Funding Options

Regardless of the option that you pick, it is going to cost money. The exact cost will depend on the option that you choose, whether that is a care home, home help or having them move in with you. Realistically, none of the options are likely to be cheap, although one might be more affordable than the others. There are a few schemes or programmes that you can reach out to for help provided by the government, local authority or other charities, non-profits or businesses. Doing your research is paramount to finding the schemes that you are eligible or qualify for. Obviously, there is also going to be an application process to get through.

To Conclude

Everyone simply wants to do right by their relatives, but truthfully, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all when it comes to finding care for an elderly relative. There are a lot of considerations to take into account, like your budget, the level of care needed, your loved one’s choices and your preferences too. Research is incredibly important here to find the best choice for all involved.

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