Deciding when additional care support is needed for your elderly parents is one of the most difficult decisions you will need to make. Not only is there the emotional side of helping them see the benefits of moving into a care or nursing home, but there's also the very practical element of finding the place that suits them best.
Balancing both of these, as well as keeping on top of your own responsibilities in your personal and professional lives can be a huge challenge. However, like most areas of life, being as well informed and prepared as possible will ensure the process is much smoother for you and your relative.
Knowing when it's time
Once your parents get to a certain age, it's natural for you to worry about them when you're not around. Most people feel a lot of emotional and sentimental attachment to their house, especially if it has been a family home, so moving them can be a difficult time for both you and them.
So when is the right time to consider care? There are warning signs you can keep an eye out for, such as forgetting to take important medication, nutrition problems, sudden weight loss or gain, falling or hurting themselves regularly, and sudden changes in behaviour. Mental health can also be a key consideration in elderly care, as many suffer from loneliness, especially during the winter, so someone suddenly becoming withdrawn or experiencing mood swings can also be something to look out for.
There are lots of options to consider, including care offered in their own home or moving into a care home.
The most important thing is that you find out what options are available to you, and what is a priority to your mum or dad.
Balancing your other demands
Looking after an elderly parent can be draining, especially if they need a lot of support or live alone. It's likely that you have your own commitments in your job and towards your children and spouses. This can mean the added responsibility of ensuring your elderly relatives have everything they need can be too much.
It's important to know that there is support out there. From community-run groups to advice from specialist charities like Age UK, there is a wide network of help available for elderly people and their relatives. Many care homes also offer respite care and hold community days. These can be fantastic ways to introduce your parent/s to care homes, without them feeling that decisions are being made for them.
Talking to them
It's fairly common for people to not talk about care support until they're at a point when they need it, but this can lead to many problems. Not only will it add more stress to a potentially already-difficult situation, but can mean you make a sudden decision instead of being able to logically think and discuss the options available.
This is why it's so important to talk to your older parents about their feelings and priorities. Of course, you may want to approach it delicately when you first bring up the topic but you should make it clear that it's just so you can find out what they want. Putting them at the heart of all these discussions will not only help them feel more relaxed about the whole thing, but will make the process less stressful for you if the time does come when they need more support.
It's never too early to start talking about care homes, so another way of starting the conversation is saying what you'd want for yourself when the time comes. Of course, it's important that you don't influence their decisions, but it can help to remove the taboo surrounding the topic.
Finding the right home
With so many care and nursing homes across the country, what's available can vary massively. Many of our homes offer a range of activity classes. From gardening and flower arranging to more active pursuits like Zumba and other fitness sessions, offering a wide range of options to suit all interests and abilities.
Talking to your parent/s about what they see their later years being like will help you clarify what type of home they're looking for, meaning you can be prepared if the time comes. Our team of experts can help you to find the right care home for your parent. Even if you're only preparing for the future, it can put both your minds at rest.