Caregiving tips: how to look after your elderly parents
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If it’s safe to do so, caring for elderly parents at home can help to promote independence and maintain their quality of life. But it’s also a huge responsibility and can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you’re the sole carer.
Getting the right support is key if you want to provide quality care and avoid wearing yourself out, says Mercy Canning from A Class Care, a live-in care provider operating across Norfolk.
“Even if your parents are in relatively good health, their needs will change and it’s important to be realistic about how much care you can provide,” she says.
“A professional caregiver can help to alleviate the workload and improve your family relationship, whether it’s having respite support for a few days a month or full-time, live-in care.”
Here, Mercy offers some useful tips for looking after aging loved ones at home and explains how sharing the caregiving responsibility can benefit everyone.
Spend quality time together
When looking after elderly or vulnerable people, the majority of your time will be spent doing chores, running errands and general care responsibilities. However, it’s important to take the time to sit down, have a catch-up and do something they enjoy.
“Caring for the elderly is not just about looking after them – it's also about providing companionship, whether it’s chatting about their favourite music or reminiscing about key moments in their life,” says Mercy.
To help encourage families to share meaningful moments, A Class Care is offering a free Life Book to store precious memories and photos.
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"When filling out the Life Book together, families will share conversations and treasured memories, and it can be particularly beneficial for people with dementia who struggle to remember the past,” says Mercy.
Keep active and engaged
Most people enjoy a slower pace of life during their senior years, but keeping engaged and connected with recreational and social activities is crucial for wellbeing.
“Whether you’re playing games together, going for a walk outside or taking them to a social club, maintaining an active lifestyle and providing mental stimulation can help to stave off feelings of loneliness and low mood,” says Mercy.
A Class Care provides person-centred care tailored to the individual, which includes taking clients to appointments and social activities, going on day trips and even holidays.
“We discourage people from just sitting and watching TV all day and will always take our clients out and about to get a change of scenery and to do something enjoyable,” says Mercy.
Maintain a routine
Having a routine can be especially important for vulnerable adults or people with long-term health conditions such as dementia. With live-in care, there’s the increased safety of having a familiar face on hand for 24/7 support as well as the comfort of being in your own home.
“Having a routine is exceptionally important for older people with illnesses. Being in their own home can be hugely beneficial for their wellbeing and improve their quality of life,” says Mercy.
“Another benefit of at-home care is that family and friends can visit any time they want rather than having to stick to rigid visiting times in a residential setting,” she adds.
Think about finances
Another key consideration of keeping elderly parents at home is the financial implications. Mercy advises preparing as much as you can in advance before you get to a crisis point. “Look at what’s available, such as equality releases and funding from your local authority,” she says.
“If your loved one loses capacity, you may need to make decisions on their behalf, which is why it’s important to get a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place as early as possible.”
A Class Care offer families advice on financial matters and can provide guidance on funding options and LPAs.