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There comes a time in most peopleís lives when their parents or in-laws need a little bit more looking after than they used to.

Often this comes through a decline in mobility or mental capacity. Both are very difficult to deal with and it can be a worrying and confusing time as we try to figure out what to do for the best.

On one hand, we often shy away from having a frank conversation with our parent/s for fear of upsetting them. On the other, we worry that they are going to hurt themselves, or live an unhealthy life.

It can be very distressing to be faced with the mortality of our own parents, too. All together, these factors make this whole time stressful, upsetting, and worrying.

Knowing where to turn to for help is tricky, but there are agencies and options out there.

In this article, I will run through some of the important steps and options out there if you are worried that your parent/s need more care.

Step 1:  Facing The Truth Together

 

It might start off with noticing something small. Maybe your dad keeps forgetting to turn the oven off or is struggling to follow a conversation and blames his hearing.

Or your mum has had a few falls, but with seemingly perfectly reasonable explanations. Her slippers feel funny, or the cat gets in the way.

Whatever you have started to notice, trust your instinct and investigate. If it does turn out to be as simple as needing new slippers or a hearing aid, thatís great.

But donít just ignore it, because your parents will be safer, happier, and healthier for longer if the root cause of their problems is established and the symptoms managed.

It can be a difficult conversation to have if you suspect something like dementia, but it is worth having the conversation early with your parent/s. And the chances are, they have noticed something is off, too.  The Alzheimerís Society has some great resources if you are worried.

Step 2: Know Who To Turn To

 

The next step is to seek advice.

Your parentís GP is a good place to start. Try to accompany your parent if they will let you. It is important the GP gets a thorough understanding of the challenges and symptoms your parent is experiencing. Being there will make sure you can counteract any Ďdownplayingí they might do.

You should also get in touch with your local council and request a needs assessment. The council will arrange an appointment to come and assess your parentís accommodation and needs before signposting to helpful services, such as:

 

∑       Occupational health

∑       Home adaptations

∑       Paid carers

∑       Financial assessments

∑       Personal alarms

∑       Household gadgets

You can apply for a needs assessment here.

Also consider contacting charities such as Age UK, Alzheimerís Society, and The Silver Line. These charities and organisations often have, or know of, a range of services, support groups, and advice you and your parent can access.

Step 3: Plan For The Long Term

 It is a horrible thing to have to face but sometime in the future your parent might not be able to live totally alone.

It is much better to plan for that whilst your parent is still able to have a say in where they live when that happens, or before disaster befalls them and the need is urgent.

There are a number of options for when your parent/s need more support.

Live in carers enable your parent to stay at home, but obviously are expensive and require their own room.

Sheltered accommodation is a good stop gap between totally independent living and a nursing or care home.

If you have space and all parties are in agreement, they could move in with you. This option often fills both child and parent with horror at the thought of living in such close proximity again.

A good compromise is a garden annexe. If you have a bit of space in your garden, you could consider one of these stand-alone small chalets. They let your parent/s live close by with support from you, but everyone retains their own space and independence.

A nursing home or care home is another option. There was a time when care homes were cabbage smelling hell holes, but these days there are some very nice ones available.

Do your research though. Donít just pick the nearest. Visit the Quality Care Commissionís website to read up on the homes and arrange to visit before you make a decision. It is likely the best ones will have a waiting list, so this is where planning ahead pays dividends.

If you are worried about paying for care, head back to the council to ask for a financial assessment. They will be able to tell you what assistance your parent/s are entitled to.

 

Summary

 

1) Donít avoid the issue. Early diagnosis can make a lot of difference and gets you on the waiting list for things.

2) Ring the council. Itís a good place to start.

3) Reach out to charities for support.

4) Consider accommodation options early to prevent being forced into a quick decision. 

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