Living arrangement options when you're caring for elders

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Many of us have lots of things on our plate everyday. Working, running a house, looking after children, and increasingly more of us are caring for older relatives as well.

Caring for your relatives is something that just creeps up on you without you realising. For me, it started with my dad becoming poorly when I was a teenager which meant my mum became the main breadwinner. We all just pulled together and made changes to make sure every job was done from the washing to preparing food, everything right through to helping prepare and collect medicine.

I wouldn’t have ‘labelled’ myself as a ‘joint carer’ but in reality that is what I had become.

The last few years especially, my parents have become more and more dependent on my brother and I. It's at this point that we started looking at the living arrangement options out there that could best support my parents while living in their own home

Home modifications

On the face of it, parents living on their own home seems the best option. They retain their independence, they are not uprooted from the home that they love and they are retaining their dignity.

On the other hand, their house might not be built in a way that makes it easy to get around and carry out day-to-day acitivities. This frustration can be made worse if you and other family members live some way away. It may also mean spending money on some modifications to make things a little easier at home, such as; the installation of ramps, a stair lift, and other living aids.

Other modifications to think about, you may be able to get support from social services with some of these;

  • Heating and lighting,
  • Cupboard access,
  • Kitchen and food prep,
  • Bathroom handrails.

Additional support

Additionally, you can recieve support to help your parents stay in their same home with help with day-to-day jobs. Things like; meals-on-wheels service, day centres and local pensioner groups that may be able to help.

Don't forget, too, the critical role that neighbours can play. If your parents have good neighbours, you could ask them to keep an eye open for your elderly parents and ask them to pop in from time to time to check how they are.

If your elderly parents are quite capable of looking after themselves but you feel that you want to be in close contact then you can look into an alarm system that, once your parent has pressed it, it rings your phone and you can talk to them to assess the situation.

Live-in care

It may be that your parents would benefit from a live-in carer. If so, there are some private organisations that provide this service.

Organising live-in care for a loved one is usually pretty straight-forward. Organisations will normally carry out a free home assessment where they arrange to visit to look at the surroundings, as well as to better understand your needs.

Between you, you can decided how often you would like a carer to visit and during which hours, as well as the specific tasks you believe your loved one would need support with the most. You can even state whether your loved one has particular interests and hobbies, and most services will try to match them with a carer who shares them.

There are lots of places that can support you and your loved ones, from care services and private organisations to your GP.

Here are a couple of links you might find helpful:

NHS support

Age UK

Support and information

As I always say, if you are worried about anything talk to someone – it could be your partner or family member, or if you prefer you could talk to someone independent. There are also carer forums online which you could join where you can chat to people in similar situations.

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