Having spent the last 10 years experiencing her parents growing older and caring for them as their health deteriorated, Brighton business owner, Tracey Allen, reflects on her experience. Here Tracey offers some top tips about preparing for your parent moving in with you. #carersweek
When the distance between parent and carer becomes too great, but a care home is not the solution, it might be worth considering moving your parent into your home, if everyone agrees.
Here are the first things you should perhaps consider, before caring for your elderly parent in your home to make the transition as smooth as possible:
- Medical Support
The most terrifying part of going to live somewhere else as you get older is medication, medical support, pain management and hygiene. Before you do anything speak to your local surgeries about moving someone into the area and what provision is given. Once a doctor and a dentist are assigned everyone can start to relax. If you have complex medication requirements find out which Pharmacy do the Blister packs and check that they are happy to take your medication management on. A visit past the local hospital to see where it is also helps calm nerves before a time when you might need it in an emergency.
- Friends and neighbours – diverting mail and phone
When someone has lived in one place for over 50 years (as is regularly the case), removing them from their home and everything they find familiar can seem a little cruel, so you should firstly weigh up the benefits against everything else that is going on. If you do make the changeover, the early days can be lonely due to lack of contact with familiar friends and neighbours and can make the move even worse initially. Try and ensure that you have the post and telephone diverted as soon as possible so that regular contact resumes and some form of normality resumes.
- Safety in YOUR home
Take a good look around your home and identify any hazards like slips and trips in the bathroom and living areas. Try and make everything as easy as possible with plenty of hand holds in the shower area and around the loos and on the stairs. Carpet if it’s less slippy than the flooring and tidiness to minimise trips and accidents is a must. If you normally leave your slippers in the middle of the room, it’s time to take them with you. Caring for your elderly parent in your own home isn’t just down to medication, it’s also about thinking ahead and seeing hazards that can create problems later down the line, for example, making sure lighting is bright and cables secured away.
- Favourite things
It’s so important that from Day One your elderly parent or relative has as many favourite and familiar things around them as possible, especially if they have left in a rush due to illness. The items we found essential were – medication, pillow and duvet, radio, hot water bottle, cosmetics and creams, favourite clothes and shoes, reading materials including magnifiers and lighting, address book, photo albums.
- Eating and Meal times
Meal times are really important and diet and nutrition key, as well as hydration. If you are used to eating your dinner on your sofa each night, this might have to become more formal and will be a change for the whole family. Laying the table and making it an occasion is important, especially if someone has been alone during the day. If you do decide to have the occasional tea time sofa treat, consider this carefully. A sandwich, slice of pizza or omelette is easy, but soup and spaghetti can cause disaster!
Keep meals nutritious and keep carafes of flavoured water and fruit juices around the home so it is easy and interesting for an older person to keep hydrated. For more advice check out our Health & Wellbeing pages with advice from our nutrition partners Brighton and Hove Food Partnership.
- The former home
The great things about someone moving in with you, is that it gives you time to consider your options about the family home and there is less anxiety and upset for the relative. If affordable, it’s wise to keep the gardener coming through the summer months and a trusted cleaner each month to keep an eye on things especially in winter months. Heating should be kept on timed during the coldest months to stop pipes from freezing and window cleaners and deliveries advised of the changes. Ask neighbours to keep an eye on general activity.
- Your other relationships
Having an older person to care for can be time consuming and can take over the time and care you spend on others and yourself. Try not to let this happen. If it means getting up an hour earlier to get to the gym or go for a swim – or using the lunch break to message a loved one or buy something for the family, try and keep everyone in the loop so that resentment does not settle in.
- Your work commitments
In the early days of caring for an older person in your own home, there will be much to sort. Try and do this when your work commitments are at a lower level. This will give you time to sort things out whilst the loved one settles in.
- Days out!
Join the National Trust or any other organisation that gives you plenty of ideas to get out and about. We noticed that whilst we were out and about and busy, the person we were caring for was not getting out at all. A ride in the car and a spot of light lunch could make all the difference to mood, conversation and general feelings of wellbeing.
- Finances and legal arrangements
Taking over many of the legal and financial arrangements will be a natural progression but make sure you do it properly and legally. Check out our finance and legal pages from Rix & Kay who can advise on sorting the right Lasting Power of Attorney and legal and financial solutions for Later life.
If you do manage to achieve all of this and your parent moves in, the first month may be a little bumpy as everyone settles into the new regime, but after this time you will find it fun, rewarding and at times a little stressful. In my mind this is all worth it and is a way of returning the love and guidance they provided over a lifetime. #carersweek