As children, our parents looked after us; they fed us, dressed us and bathed us. Throughout our lives, as we start to grow up and thrive on our own, they’re always there for us. Whether it’s lending us money when we can’t even afford to buy a carton of milk or answering our cooking questions, our parents are always there for us. They even risked death or serious injury by getting in the car with us as learner drivers. Let’s be honest about it, there isn’t anything our parents wouldn’t do for us.
That’s why when they start to age and can no longer care for themselves, so many of us feel compelled to become their carer. We might joke that the minute they hit 60 we’re dumping them in the local nursing home. But all jokes aside, most of us would prefer to care for our parents, ourselves. After all, they cared for us when we needed them, pandered to our every need, so surely we should return the favour?
What it’s important to realise is that when it comes to caring for an elderly parent, that it’s a long-term thing. No matter how much you love your parent, not everyone is suited to being a carer. Caring for someone comes with a lot of stress and worry, and can also be incredibly expensive. That being said, there are lots of options for helping an elderly parent, all of which are worth exploring.
To help you decide whether you’ve got what it takes to care for an elderly relative, I thought I would share some advice.
You need to be kind, caring and patient
Caring for an elderly relative is a lot like caring for a small child, a lot of kindness and patience is essential. What you have to realise is that as we age, it’s not only our bodies that let us down but also our minds. This can make caring for someone who’s aging even more difficult. As not only do they struggle with mobility but also understanding what’s going on.
You may find that your parent dislikes being helped and refuses to cooperate with you. Or you may find that they get upset whenever they can’t do something for themselves, they may even get angry. It’s important to realise that aging isn’t a nice process and that your parent may struggle with the role reversal of you having to care for them.
You’ll need to adapt your home
When it comes to caring for an elderly relative, you have two options. You can choose to care for them in your home or in theirs. What you opt to do will probably depend on the financial side of things as well as where they live. If you choose to have your parent come and live with you, it’s important to realise that you’ll need to adapt your home. This can be a pricey process, depending on your relative’s specific needs.
The good news is that there are plenty of online stores that offer a range of equipment for making it easier and more cost-effective to adapt your home. From shower bars to high arm chairs, websites like Procter Health Care, have a range of facilities. Adapting your home might take time but it doesn’t have to be overly expensive, it’s just a case of shopping smart. If money is a problem and your elderly relative owns their own home, it could be worth considering putting their home on the market. This will help to cover the cost of any amendments that you may need to make to your home.
It won’t be easy
While being a carer for an elderly parent is a lovely thing to do, it’s important to understand that it won’t be easy. Taking care of someone who struggles with various areas of mobility can be a real struggle. It can be time-consuming and incredibly stressful, but it can also be extremely rewarding. While taking care of an aging parent won’t always be easy, it is more than worth the time and effort.
There will be times when you feel like giving up when nothing is going right. But then, when you see how grateful your parent is for the help you’re giving them, you’ll feel amazing for what you’re doing. It takes a certain type of person to be a carer – you need to be mentally strong, as well as kind and caring. Caring for someone who once looked after you can be mentally draining. As it’s incredibly difficult seeing them deteriorate. However, knowing that you have been there for them is incredibly comforting.
You can get help from local services
It’s also important to realise that if you opt to become a carer, you won’t be on your own. There are hundreds of charities across the UK that offer help and advice to carers, making life easier and less stressful. There are support groups that you can turn to when it all gets too much, to discuss and talk about the problems you’re struggling with. There are online forums where you can swap advice and hear other people’s stories.
Local services can also help with care for your parent. If for example, you have to work during the day, there are local nurses who can come in and check on your parent. As well as being able to pop in and check on your parent during the day, a local nurse can also help them with various tasks, from washing to making lunch.
There are also respite facilities that you can turn to that offer day care for elderly adults, making being a working carer easier. As well as day care, there is also residential respite available that gives you a few days off of being a carer every month or so. This is ideal if you want to head off on holiday or have some much-needed time to relax.
Being a carer for an elderly relative won’t always be easy, but it is more than worth the effort. Your parents looked after you as a child; now it’s your turn to return the favour. If you can’t care for them yourself, you could always consider hiring a private nurse to look after them. It’s just a case of working out what the best option for you and them would be.