Sometimes we reach a point in our lives when our parents need that little bit extra care. You might have noticed dad forgetting to eat, or mum starting to have falls. Or, they might have had a diagnosis. If that is the case for you, you might be feeling slightly at a loss over what to do next. You might be asking yourself what you should do when your parents need extra care.
Talking to your parents about needing extra care can be hard. It can be difficult to know where to start, it is emotional, and you might feel overwhelmed. This is normal and totally understandable.
In the first of this three-part series, we are going to help you take that first step. This blog will give you some useful hints and tips on what to do when your parents need extra care.
We will be looking at the options available, from having that initial conversation to financial guidance, downsizing and then what to do if a Granny Annexe is an ideal solution for you and your family.
Equals, Not Superiors.
“Offering care means being a companion, not a superior. It doesn’t matter whether the person we are caring for is experiencing cancer, the flu, dementia, or grief. If you are a doctor or surgeon, your expertise and knowledge come from a superior position. But when our role is to be providers of care, we should be there as equals.”
Wise words from Judy Cornish there from her book, that we highly recommend by the way, The Dementia Handbook.
We think that is vital that any discussion or plans with elderly relatives about how to help them retain their independence are done openly and that decisions aren’t made without their consent or input.
This is going to be a tricky conversation regardless of your relationship with your parents. If you can, enlist the support of your siblings or other relatives. Approach the conversation openly, but sensitively. Remember you aren’t being cruel, you are trying to protect them. It is likely they have come to a similar conclusion themselves.
So once you take a deep breath and begin, what should you actually talk about?
What Care Do Your Parents Need?
Do your elderly relatives need help because of mobility problems or is it a cognitive order such as dementia that is causing their quality of life to deteriorate?
It may well be that if it is a mobility issue, that they can continue to live in their existing home, but with some adjustments being made to their daily life to allow them to carry on.
They may need some equipment such as a stairlift or perhaps visits from a carer every couple of days.
If it is a mental health condition, then a different approach may need to be taken. Your local council can come and assess them and suggest adjustments that can be made.
Do They Own Their Own House?
If they do, and they want to stay living in their own home, what help can they get?
If they do own their own house and it is realistic that with a few minor changes to their living arrangements, then that is possibly going to be the best solution.
It is important to be transparent and realistic. They may want to stay in their home, but depending on the reasons they need some help, is it feasible?
By discussing this openly with them as an equal you can make a potentially difficult conversation less difficult.
If they are in rented accommodation, they may be more restricted by what help they can get or adjustments that can be made.
A good place to start is the Age.uk website where you can easily find out what government benefits and support are available for elderly relatives and also carers.
How Much Money Is Available?
It can be difficult enough as it is to discuss finance with relatives so our advice would be to broach the subject carefully.
As a son or daughter, there is an automatic reaction to want to sort out everything yourself and not add to a difficult situation by asking for or even talking about money.
But if you overstretch your own finances then you will put yourself in a stressful situation.
Are there siblings that can help? Could you work together to share any costs?
If it possible that there is enough finance to pay for care in their own home, whether it is equipment such as a stair lift, or a carer, then that would be the less disruptive option, for everyone.
However, if that isn’t a realistic option then what are the other options? Again, your local council is a good place to start as they can give you advice on financial support available.
It won’t be at the top of any lists, but sometimes the option of moving into a care home may be the best way of providing care for elderly relatives.
If you contact your local authority, they will be able to carry out a needs assessment to find out what help is available.
Take a look at the governments website here for more detail or head back to the Age.uk website we mentioned earlier.
Other options would be to downsize, this could mean moving into a smaller home or a bungalow, moving in with family, or a granny annexe.
A Granny Annexe?
It may well be the case that purchasing another property may be too costly and while the idea of living with elderly relatives in order to help could work, it could also be incredibly stressful for everyone. Unless you are lucky enough to own a mansion of course…
If that’s the case, then a Granny Annexe may be a viable alternative. A granny annexe is a purpose built, stand alone home that is small enough to fit in your garden. They can be one or two bedrooms and have a kitchen, bathroom, and living space.
You don’t have to take out a mortgage and you don’t have to spend time driving to and from their home, meaning you can spend more time with them without it impacting on your other responsibilities. A Granny annexe is newly built, properly insulated, cosy, and stylish.
If you have a reasonably sized garden, a granny annexe can be built and could be the perfect solution.
Get In Touch
Next week we will guide you through the process of actually getting a Granny Annexe but in the meantime if you would like anymore information on elderly care or Granny Annexes, then please do get in touch.