Having spent the last 10 years experiencing her parents growing older and helping them as their health deteriorated, Brighton business owner, Tracey Allen, reflects on her experience. Here Tracey offers some top tips about preparing for the ageing process of your parents and when a care home becomes inevitable.
Part Two: 10 things to prepare when a Care Home is the only option
The day you are told that your relative needs to go into a care home will probably be one of the saddest days of your life. Nobody I know takes this decision lightly and much of the time you are given no choice. Hopefully, you already have a care home in mind and they have a bed / room available. If they do, then I can recommend the following things to consider.
1.Pack a few things that will make your relative feel at home with some familiar items around them, photographs, pictures, vases or lamps. These all immediately give the persons room a familiar feel and a sense of belonging.
2. Find an item that they can have on the outside of their door so that they recognise it as their own room. This is especially important in cases of Dementia.
3. Pack easy to care for clothing. We made the mistake of packing Dad’s best woollen jumper which came back small enough for my 6-year-old nephew to wear!! He loved it though.
4. Label every item of clothing and especially underwear with your name. A laundry marker pen is the quickest way of doing this.
5. Don’t pack any belongings that you will miss should they disappear. You may never get them back. Make a list of all clothing and belongings that you bring in as you will need it on occasion.
6. Have a fruit bowl and plenty of bottled water in the room so that your relative can keep hydrated whenever they want to and are not reliant on the care staff always remembering.
7. Ask friends to visit but do prepare them in advance, there is nothing worse than an upset visitor because they have never ventured into a care home before. You really want people to be buoyant and energetic when visiting. Not someone who looks as though they want to run away.
8. If your relative loves music, make sure you provide them with a music device that is easy to use and can provide some easy listening when they are in their room
9. Wear layers. Care homes are very warm. You’ll need to peel off the layers in winter – summer is of course not so bad.
10. Take some time for yourself both during visits and afterwards. Much of the time is spent sitting and watching someone sleep or not want to talk. Photo albums or a good book can be very handy to have about you on these long days. You are going through a period of massive change and your grieving may have already begun for the person you used to know. Take time to deal with this process. You do not have to be brave all of the time. Just when you’re visiting. Then you have to be very brave indeed.