You might remember that recently I shared a post about what it takes to be a carer for an elderly relative. Well today, I’ll be touching back on the topic of ageing relatives. But this time, I’ll be focusing on the best ways to help them without becoming their carer. Let’s be honest about it; we’re not all cut out to be carers and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a lot that comes with being a carer, which means that if you’ve got a young family or a hectic career, being a carer just isn’t doable.
The good news is that even if you aren’t able to take care of your parent yourself, there are plenty of ways you can help to make their lives a little easier. As our parents get older, they’re no longer able to do all the things that they used to. This means, that to get by, they need a little extra help. In case you’re struggling with the best ways to help them, I thought I would share a few ideas. For everything that you need to know about making your ageing parent’s life easier, have a read of these ten suggestions.
- Ask them what they need
One of the easiest ways to help your ageing parents is oh so simple – ask them what they need. Sit down with them and have a chat about their age and changing needs. Explain that you would like to help make life easier for them and would love it if they could tell you how to do that. It may be a case that their home is too large and they would like to move to somewhere smaller or that they’d like to be nearer to you. Or, it could be that they’re managing fine and don’t really need any help. Believe it or not, some elderly people are perfectly capable of looking after themselves. Whatever the outcome of the conversation, it’s definitely one that’s worth having.
- Look into local help
If your parents aren’t coping by themselves, your first port of call should be local help. If you’re unsure about what’s available, it’s a good idea to get in touch with Age Concern, who should be able to point you in the right direction. Most areas have a range of services for older adults that can help to make life that little bit easier and more manageable. It may take some time to work out what there is in your local area, but it’s more than worth putting in the time and effort. For instance, when my grandma was suffering from dementia, we found that there were plenty of local resources that could help. It took a while to locate them, but once we’d found out what she was entitled to on the NHS, life got that bit easier for her and my grandfather.
- Hire a nurse
A great option if your parents need help with a range of tasks is hiring a private nurse. This may not come cheap but if you aren’t able to be a carer for your parent, this is the next best option. Your parent may be entitled to some home-based nurses care on the NHS, so it’s worth finding out about this. For any extra care, you’ll need to pay. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to come out of your own pocket – if your parent has insurance, this may cover it. From ensuring that your parent takes any medications to helping them to shower, nurses can help with various everyday tasks. You won’t need to panic about your parent because you’ll have a nurse who you can rely on to make tasks they struggle with, easier.
- Make mealtimes easier
Have your parents got to an age where cooking is troublesome? At some point or another, cooking becomes a struggle for us all. While you could cook for your parents or have them over to dinner every night, there are other options to consider. Sometimes, cooking for your parents yourself, or having them over each night, just isn’t practical. If that’s the case, consider ordering them food from a specialist service. There are lots of meal delivery services that drop off healthy, homemade meals to pensioners for affordable prices. If you like the idea of having your parents food delivered to them, Meals on Wheels is a service worth looking into, as is Wiltshire Farm Foods. Have a browse online, read the reviews, compare prices, and then select the most suitable one.
- Get them into daytime schemes
If both or one of your parents is in need of daytime care, then look into local daytime schemes. Most areas have daycare services for the elderly that are free on the NHS. You can also opt for private versions if you would prefer. These facilities are a bit like child care except they’re for OAPs. They’re fun, friendly and a great way for your parents to develop a healthy social life. Plus, these types of services ensure that your parents get all the care that they need, making theirs and your life easier.
- Look at retirement communities
Do your parents love being independent but need to have help on hand? Why not suggest that they move into a retirement community? At first, they may not be keen, but once they hear the perks of life in a retirement community, they’ll soon change their minds. They’ll still have their independence, but there will be people on hand to help, should they need it. You can find out more about the pros and cons of retirement housing if you read this post by Hopton Cottage Care Homes. It could be an incredibly useful tool as it explains everything that you and your parents need to know.
- Consider a care home
Are your parents struggling to get by at home by themselves? If this is the case and you aren’t able to have your parents living with you, how about considering a care home? If your parents aren’t coping without constant care, then the best option could be a care home. You may not like the idea of putting your parents into a home but if they need full-time help, it’s the best option. Ignore the horror stories you’ve heard; there are plenty of lovely facilities around. It’s just a case of taking the time to do your research on each place.
- Get them an alarm system
Another option if your parents want to be in their own home, but need help with certain things, is to get them an alarm system. That way should there be a problem; they can easily alert you or a nurse. The alarms go around their necks and mean that should they have a fall or suffer from another problem, all they need to do is press their alarm. This is a great option if your parents want to stay in their home but you aren’t able to constantly be there with them.
- Talk to their doctor
If you’re unsure about the type of help your parents need, the best option is to talk to their doctor. Make an appointment to chat with their GP about their changing needs and how you can make life easier for them. Doctors aren’t just there to diagnose health problems; they’re also able to offer advice on other issues. It can be hard to know what to do when it comes to the best ways to help an ageing relative. However, by asking their doctor what they would recommend, you can find the best ways to help them. For instance, if your parent suffers from mobility problems, their doctor may recommend adapting their home to make it safer. Such as by adding a stair lift, hand rails and non-slip flooring.
- Update their home
If your parents have issues that affect their mobility, then adapting their home is crucial. This could be as simple as adding grab bars in their bathroom. Or as complex as finding them a new home without stairs. As we age, our needs change, meaning that the way we live also needs to change. If your parent struggles with walking, then stairs are far too dangerous for them. They either need to move house or have a stair lift installed. If you’re not able to be with them 24/7 then you need to ensure that their home is as safe for them as possible.
It’s not easy seeing the people you care about get older and becoming more vulnerable. It can be hard to know how to look after them, as you don’t want to be too over the top but you also want to ensure that they’re kept safe. You may not be able to be a full-time carer for your parents, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make their lives easier. There are lots of options for making things easier for them, you just need to find the perfect ones.