Over recent months, a few members of the team have found themselves taking on the responsibility of caring for ageing parents. It’s something that can creep up on us, something we previously haven’t given much thought to, a subject that tends to go ‘on the back burner’, especially as it’s such an emotive subject, sometimes difficult to think and talk about. Whilst our loved ones are still relatively fit and healthy, it’s hard to picture what kind of help they might need in the future. Sadly, most care decisions are made in urgency after an accident or illness, where we are suddenly relied upon for support. An open, honest chat about it now can really help to smooth the way in the future. In this post, we’ll discuss some ideas on where to start and explore a few of the options out there.
You may already be doing more to help your previously independent parent/s and you may feel a little daunted by how that increased responsibility will take shape as their needs grow. There are some relatively simple preparatory steps that can be taken immediately and could really help in the future. For example, do you have authority to speak to utility companies, or the local council, on your loved one’s behalf? This can usually be arranged with a simple instruction to the provider (some will accept email instructions, and most provide ‘how to’ information on their website to appoint an additional ‘admin only’ person), some will accept a simple letter of authority with a signature from the account holder. This could really help to make day-to-day admin easier until you are ready to put a Power of Attorney in place.
Most of you will have heard of Age UK, but you may be surprised by the wide range services they offer, such as advice on entitlement to benefits, free services in the community such as transport and befriending services, lunch clubs, and advice on housing options in later life. They offer face-to-face appointments where they’ll provide tailored advice which could be invaluable in accessing any benefits your loved one may be entitled to. It’s a bit of a minefield and it’s easy to miss out – they really are the experts. Through a face-to-face appointment with Age UK, one of the Ovation team was surprised to discover that her mother was entitled to receive attendance allowance worth £369 per month, and even more surprised to discover that the local authority was willing to back-date it by several months. It helps if you can take along as much paperwork as possible – bank statements, pension details, national insurance number – so that they can quickly identify any areas where financial help might be due.
A difficult but very common hurdle is the reluctance of our loved ones to acknowledge that they might need extra support. A softly-softly approach can be facilitated through an accredited and experienced home-care provider, where initial help might take the shape of just a short, fortnightly visit for example. The Care Quality Commission provide information about both home-care service providers and residential care homes in your area. The Ovation team have personal experience of home-care provider Home Instead who offer a truly flexible and personalised care plan, taking into consideration daily routines, lifestyle preferences and needs. They will sensitively handle the initial introduction to care, and most importantly, are relationship-led, so they will match the caregiver’s interests and personality to that of your loved one, helping to develop a trusting relationship.
Did you know that you can also access befriending services for lonely or isolated loved ones? Reengage.org.uk is just one example of organisations offering a variety of services to help combat loneliness in later life. Your circumstances may mean that you can’t see your loved ones as often as you’d like, and these services can really help.
A common concern with ageing parents is around their safety as elderly drivers. It’s tough to potentially face that loss of independence, and it can be a very difficult conversation to initiate when we become concerned about the safety of our loved ones on the road. Help about how they might stay safer on the road can be found here at olderdriversforum.com
Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll delve further into the topic of your parents golden years and sharing more the team’s insights and tips.