This blog looks at how to care for an elderly parent in your home. When you find yourself feeling uncomfortable at the idea of your elderly parent living on their own, and you have extra space in your home, caring for them at home can be a very rewarding experience for both of you. You might feel that no one can care for your elderly parent like you can, or you might just like the reassurance that you are on hand if they need you.
However, it must be said that caring for an elderly parent in your home can bring its own challenges. It’s important to establish a daily routine that works for you both, to encourage your loved one to retain their independence as much as possible, and to keep doing the things they love.
Caring for an elderly parent in your home can leave you feeling drained, and it’s important to build in breaks so that you appreciate the time you spend with your parent. This is known as respite care and is definitely worth considering.
This blog looks at ways you can plan your home set-up and daily routine to help you look after your elderly parent and yourself as you prepare to live together again. Read on the learn how to care for the elderly in your home.
Care Support at Home for Your Parent
Many people find creating a daily routine really helpful when caring for an elderly parent at home. This needs to work for all of you and can be designed around the things your loved one needs help with.
For example, perhaps you meet in the kitchen for breakfast at 8.30am – or 9am if you prefer to rise later. If you have to leave for work at a certain time, or get children to school, let your parent know when you need the bathroom to be available.
It’s crucial to ensure that this routine (whilst involving compromise) doesn’t leave either of you feeling resentful at changing the way things work best for you. And it’s important to build in some flexibility too.
It might be that getting ready in the morning is challenging for your elderly parent. This is a very common time for us at Good Oaks to provide care support to clients in their homes. Our carers help elderly clients with a variety of morning activities – from getting out of bed, to getting dressed and having breakfast.
If you work in the day, or it’s difficult to provide so much assistance first thing, it might be worth looking into getting support from a home care agency for this part of the day.
Helping an Elderly Parent Stay Independent
Staying independent is really important to lots of elderly people. Although you might feel nervous about your elderly parent doing the things they used to do, maintaining some semblance of their life before they needed care can be hugely beneficial to the mental (and physical) health of your elderly parent.
For example, it’s important for elderly people to keep exercising their muscles if they can, whilst avoiding aggravating any existing injuries. The less physical activity a person does, the less they are able to do. If you have a garden, perhaps you could encourage your elderly parent to help with gardening (if their mobility allows this) or you could build regular walks together or with friends into daily life.
Keep in Touch with Friends
In a similar way, encouraging your elderly parent to keep in touch with their friends and other members of their family is important too. Hearing from a friend, or family member, might brighten their day and help them to feel connected to their life before they needed care.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you could organise video calls with your elderly parent’s family members and friends, to help them stay in touch and up-to-date with news. Video calls like Zoom mean that your parent can see the faces of their loved ones, which can be really helpful.
You could also organise socially distant meet-ups with your family and friends in your garden, so that your parent can spend time with them. This can help alleviate the pressure on your relationship, which can become more intense when you live together. You could perhaps also take this time to do something for yourself and take a break, knowing that your elderly parent is being cared for by your loved ones.
It’s also important that you stay in contact with your friends whilst caring for an elderly parent, and take the time to nurture friendships and spend time with the people that you love.
Cooking for an Elderly Parent
Little things, like remembering to include your elderly parent’s favourite foods and snacks in the weekly grocery shop can go a long way. It can feel like a big responsibility to cook for another person each day. Alternatively, you might enjoy doing so, or feel you are already cooking a meal so it isn’t too much extra trouble. This is a good example of how you need to be monitoring your feelings and putting support in place if you do feel your stress-levels rising.
Meal preparation is another aspect of life that we at Good Oaks support a number of our care clients with. Our carers use ingredients that you have in the house to make meals that clients like to eat. This can help take one thing off your to-do list.
Perhaps this is something that would be helpful a few days a week, or a couple of times a month. You can work with a home care agency like Good Oaks to come up with a care plan that works for you and your family.
If your loved on is able to, it might be that preparing meals is a way that your elderly parent would like to contribute to life at home. Perhaps one or two nights a week, they can cook up a family favourite that they enjoy making, or just help you or your family with cooking a meal.
Putting together a meal plan each week might be something that you do already. If not, it might be something worth considering so that everyone knows what to expect and who is cooking what on which night.
Giving Your Elderly Parent Space in Your Home
Going from living in their own house or flat to living in yours will be a big transition for your elderly parent – and for you. How much space they have to themselves will depend greatly on how much space you have available. Whether they just have a room to themselves, a couple of rooms, or an annex, it’s worth thinking through how giving some space to your loved one will work.
This might also depend on how much care your elderly parent needs, and how involved you are in their care. It can feel like a bit of a balancing act, but remembering that we all need some space to ourselves, as well as needing time with others to prevent loneliness are both important.
The best thing to do is to speak to your elderly parent about what they feel would work. Being honest with each other is going to be really important in you new living arrangement, just as it would be when living with people at any other point in your life.
Help with Cleaning
Having another person in your house is also bound to increase the amount of cleaning and tidying you will find yourself doing. If your loved one is able, they might be able to help you with keeping their rooms tidy. Alternatively, they might be too frail to do so and that might be one of the reasons that they have come to live with you.
Taking on too much housework yourself can be tiring and draining. In the worst-case scenario, it can leave you feeling unsupported and resentful. Speak to the other members of your family and come up with a cleaning rota that shares out the chores more equally. If you live in a busy household and both you and your partner work, it might be worth thinking about hiring a Cleaner.
Alternatively, cleaning and tidying are domestic tasks that our carers do for our clients. This can absolutely be built into the care plan, to help your house run smoothly.
Consider Live-In Care for Your Elderly Parent
It’s important to recognise when the responsibility of caring for your elderly parent is becoming too much. You might feel your stress levels rising and find that you are appreciating the time you are spending with your loved one less. Perhaps the care needs of your elderly parent are just becoming too extensive.
If this is the case, it is definitely worth speaking to a home care agency like Good Oaks to arrange care for your parent. This might involve several visiting care visits a day, during which carers help your elderly parent get ready for the day, have lunch, and get ready to go to bed. It might be that companionship calls are also helpful, where a carer will spend social time with your parent.
If your elderly parent starts needing extra support at night, we can arrange sleeping or waking night visits from carers – where a carer spends the night at your house and is on hand to support.
If your loved one’s care needs have increased significantly, and you have space in your home, it might be worth thinking about Live-In Care. This involves a carer coming to stay in your home, day and night, for at least two weeks at a time. Live-in carers can help with the running of the house as much as you need them to be, as well as providing care and companionship for your elderly parent.
At Good Oaks, we work hard to match you with the right carer, taking into account your elderly parents’ interests and backgrounds and the personalities of both client and carer. We want to make sure that this will be a positive, supportive relationship that both client and carer will thrive in. It’ll also be important for you to get on well with the carer and enjoy having them in your home. We have a wide range of expertise, from elderly frail care to dementia care, so are sure to be able to help.
How much does it cost for elderly home care?
Opting for a live in carer does come with a cost, but it’s a small price to pay for professional, friendly and flexible service. At Good Oaks Home Care, our live in care services start from £990.00 per week for care of a single adult and £1,100.00 per week for a couple. Different levels of care will have different prices, so get in touch with us if you want to find out exactly how much home care will cost for you.
Time For Yourself
Caregivers have a difficult task, so one of the most important aspects of caring for an elderly parent is making sure you have some time to yourself. Really think about what you enjoy doing, what you find relaxing and what makes you feel like yourself again. Make sure you plan some time out to do these activities. Time to recharge is essential and it’s really important to remember this.
You might feel guilty for needing some time away from your elderly parent, or your family, but your wellbeing is very important. You can’t look after someone if you are not looking after yourself.
You can speak to a home care agency like Good Oaks about respite care, what your loved one needs, and how you would like things to work. If you have siblings, you could also ask them to come and stay to help out while you have some time away. This is difficult during lockdown, but perhaps one to try when restrictions have eased further.
Financial Help for Home Care
You might be eligible to financial assistance with your elderly parent’s care. The senior care system in the UK occupies a space between various departments at both local and national government level, the NHS and private organisations. They are all linked, but it can be difficult to know where to start.
Often, the best place to begin is a carer’s assessment by your local council. The council has an obligation to provide an assessment, even if your parent isn’t eligible for any state funds. They should be able to signpost you to other useful organisations and resources.
If your elderly parent is assessed and decided to need financial help from social care services, you can choose to receive direct payments from the Local Authority to organise your own care. This gives you more choice and control over the support you receive and means you can change provider if you are not happy.
Direct payments are paid every four weeks in advance and are made up of:
Your contribution (that you have been financially assessed as being able to pay)
The Local Authority contribution – the difference between the total value of the care you have been assessed as needing and your contribution.
You can use the direct payment to meet the agreed outcomes in your support plan. This can include:
Personal care – using a CQC Registered Agency like Good Oaks or employing your own staff
Social opportunities – using these as an alternative to going to a day centre
Short term care for a break
Your elderly parent could be eligible for a payment of £57.30 or £85.60 a week to help with personal care if they have a physically or mentally disabled and are over 64 years old. The different rates depend on the help you need.
If you are spending at least 35 hours a week caring for an elderly parent, you might be eligible for the Carer’s Allowance. This is a payment of £62.10 per week to help you look after someone with substantial caring needs.
You’ll be eligible if the person you’re caring for is getting:
The Daily Living part of Personal Independence Payment, or
Attendance Allowance, or
Armed Forces Independence Payment, or
Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal rate, with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full-day) rate with a War Disablement Pension.
This benefit is taxable and can affect your other benefits and some of the benefits of the person you are caring for. This means that any means-tested benefits you get will be reduced by the same amount you get from Carer’s Allowance. This includes:
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
You should still claim Carer’s Allowance because if you qualify for an ‘income-related’ benefit, you may get an extra amount called the Carer’s Addition or Carer Premium. The income related benefits you may be able to get are:
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
Pension credit, or
Council Tax Reduction, which you will need to speak to your local council about.
Carer’s allowance may also help you build up National Insurance contributions for State Pensions.
NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) is a package of care arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals who are not in hospital but have complex ongoing healthcare needs.
You can receive CHC funding in your own home or in a care home, and the NHS will pay for services such as community nurse or specialist therapist and personal care such as bathing, dressing and laundry.
If you are eligible, CHC is completely free. To be eligible, you must be over 18 and have ‘a complex medical condition and substantial and ongoing care needs’. You must have a “primary health need”, which means that your main need for care must relate to your health.
There is an initial screening assessment called the Checklist Tool. If this screening suggests that you may be eligible for CHC, you’ll be referred for a full up-to-date assessment of your needs.
Note: You can’t normally get two income-replacement benefits (e.g. Carer’s Allowance and State Pension) paid together. Although you may not get this benefit if you have other benefits, it’s worth applying for as it may increase the financial help you are already getting.
Elderly Home Care with Good Oaks
Good Oaks Home Care offers both visiting and live-in care to people that need help at home. We offer an alternative to a residential care home, allowing people to stay in the homes they love, with minimal disruption to their lives.
We can help with everything from a bit of extra help around the house, to assistance with meal preparation and domestic tasks such as cleaning and tidying, to personal care and around-the-clock live-in care.
At Good Oaks, we go above and beyond to ensure our friendly and compassionate carers offer quality care at home. We follow the ‘mum test’, always asking ourselves: ‘is this care good enough for my mum? Would I be happy if my mum was receiving this level of care?’
A big part of our care strategy is hiring carers that live our PRIDE values of Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Empathy. We have a rigorous recruitment process and ensure our carers receive comprehensive training and mentoring.
We are also working hard to ensure the senior home care services that we provide are COVID-secure. This involves our carers taking their temperatures each morning, using PPE and heightening hygiene measures. You can read more about this here.