These Tips Will Help You Care For An Elderly Loved One

How to care for an elderly person

According to Carers UK, there are over 6 million people across the UK who are carers, caring for an older person, someone living with a disability or a person who has a serious illness. This equates to one in eight adults who care for family and friends, who are unpaid.

Older people are living longer, and more and more families are caring for their loved ones. Whether this is a few hours a week or round-the-clock care in their own home, caring can have a significant emotional and physical impact on your life. For many, caring for a loved one can mean you are juggling your family and personal life with your caring duties. Some are unable to work because of the support they need to provide. Many others are also living with poor health themselves, making life very challenging. It is important when considering how to care for an elderly person that you have a plan and support around you so that you can provide the very best care to your loved one. A staggering 6,000 people become carers every day. Most do not know where to get help and support, which can be overwhelming and lonely.

Here we help families to better understand how they can provide the very best care for their loved one, helping them to live with as much independence as possible. We provide guidance on how you can co-ordinate and plan person-centred care for your loved one so you can also live well with improved well-being.

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CARE AT HOME IS BEST

Most people would prefer to stay at home with the care they need as opposed to moving into a residential care home. The disruption caused from a move at any time in life can be stressful. As we get older moving from a much-loved home can cause unnecessary stress, upset and anxiety, especially if you are living with a condition like dementia.

There are many benefits of taking care of elderly people in their own home:

  • One-to-one care cannot be provided in a care home
  • You know your loved one best and can provide higher levels of personalised care
  • Your loved one can stay in their precious home, within their own community
  • Living at home enables greater levels of independence and you are not stuck with set care home routines
  • As a family you have more peace of mind knowing that you are managing and providing your loved one’s care
  • If you are cared for at home, there is a reduced risk of falling and lower rates of infection and hospital admissions
  • Staying at home with the care you need has been the safest type of care during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • The costs of care in a high-quality care home can be significant
  • Your do not need to sell your much-loved home to pay for care home fees
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CO-ORDINATING CARE AND ARRANGING A SCHEDULE

We know only too well, how time-consuming caring for a loved one can be. It is important that you get help for elderly living at home from your wider family and friends. A co-ordinated and planned effort can reduce the burden on one person and ensure that your loved one gets the care and support they need, when they need it.

If are considering how to care for an elderly person, it is worth co-ordinating the daily tasks between family members that can be involved in supporting care at home. These include:

Personal Care

Personal care is a broad term used for several tasks to help you maintain your loved one’s personal hygiene and appearance, including washing, dressing, grooming and toileting. It may be that personal care is best done by a person in the family your loved one feels most comfortable with.

Medications’ administration

Your love may have a complex medications regime. It is important that they take the medications as and when they should, so may require prompting and co-ordinating with other family members to ensure they do this.

Meal planning and cooking

It is important that your loved one has support to ensure they eat well. When taking care of an elderly person, you will need to plan their meals according to their dietary requirements, nutritional needs and personal preferences.

They may require help with shopping and cooking food. Eating with your loved one can be a social occasion and allow you to spend quality time together as a family.

Domestic tasks

A professional carer will ensure your loved one’s cleaning regime and domestic household tasks are maintained. They will ensure their home is the way it always has been. The carer will help with household administration and will be happy to run errands out of the home.

Considering the cost of care

When you are considering how to care for an elderly person at home, you will need to think about how you will pay for the care that is needed. If you have decided to look after your loved one, you may be forced to consider your employment situation and reduce the hours you work, which may not be financially viable for you. It is then worth looking at this in line with whether there is an any funding available to you to have care at home. You may be entitled to healthcare funding through your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) if your loved one has an identified healthcare need. Depending on their financial circumstances they may qualify for all or part social care funding from your local authority.

If you do not qualify for any funding, you will be required to pay for the care yourself, this is referred to as self-funding care. There are many options as to how you can finance the care yourself and care fees insurance policies that could pay your care fees over the longer term. It might be that you qualify for some funding to meet your care and support costs, and that you part fund the remainder yourself.

ENSURING CARE IS PERSON-CENTERED

When considering how to care for an elderly person at home it is always important that their wishes and preferences are respected. Providing care that is person-centred means your loved one can live with independence, respect and dignity whilst benefiting from improved well-being. Person-centred care places the person at the centre of their care. They are the expert of their own care experience.

Taking care of elderly people in a person-centred way means:

  • Understanding a person’s values
  • Putting them at the centre of their care
  • Ensuring they are comfortable and safe
  • Providing emotional support
  • Making sure they have access to health care that is appropriate as and when they need it
  • Making sure people have all the information they need to make the decision about their care and support

USING TECHNOLOGY AND HOME ADAPTATIONS

For many family carers providing help for elderly living at home, there are steps you can take to improve independence for your loved one. Making home adaptations, investing in aids that make daily tasks easier and using technology can all improve quality of life when taking care of elderly people at home.

Home adaptations

Home adaptations are modifications you make to your home that make tasks of daily living easier. These can range from large investments, like installing a stair lift in the home to small changes like fitting a grab rail in the hallway to make moving from room to room easier.

Examples of adaptations include:

  • Adding a bath lift or bath grab rail
  • Creating a walk-in shower
  • Lowering worktops in the kitchen
  • Making doorways wider
  • Installing an outdoor ramp to the front / back entrances
  • Fitting securing lights and / or an intercom system

Living aids for the home

There are several different pieces of equipment that you can buy to help care for elderly at home so they can maintain as much independence as possible:

In the bathroom:

  • A large push button to flush the toilet
  • Raised toilet seat
  • Slip mats for the shower and bath
  • Grab rails for the shower and bath
  • A commode if they are unable to go to the toilet

Movement out of a bed or a chair:

  • A bed grab rail
  • Raisers to raise the bed
  • Reclining chairs
  • Straps to lift legs

In the kitchen:

  • A kettle that has a holder making it easier to pour
  • Easy to grip kitchen items, for example knives, forks and other kitchen utensils
  • Cups and mugs with two handles
  • Coloured plates are useful if you loved one has dementia so they can find their food easily

Making the most of technology

Many older people are now embracing digital technology to make life easier and stay connected to those close to them. By supporting your loved one to embrace technology you will be increasing their levels of independence, whilst boosting their confidence and self-esteem. There are many ways older people can use technology:

Online shopping – if your loved one is unable to go out as easily as they could, you can help them to do their shopping online. This means they are still in control of what they purchase and where they choose to shop.

Banking online – all leading banks have apps that allow you to manage your money safely and securely. Supporting your loved one to continue to control their own finances if they are able to, boosts self-esteem and confidence.

Staying connected – there are a huge variety of ways digital technology allows an elderly person to stay connected to those they love. This includes emails and video calls. Make sure they have access to devices that facilitate them to stay in touch. Social media platforms like Facebook and What’s App provide opportunities for your loved one to stay connected to those who do not live near to them. They also provide a way for your loved one to stay connected to their community, through local interest and community forums.

PRIVACY AND DIGNITY IN HELPING TO CARE FOR AN ELDERLY PERSON

It is important that family members providing help for the elderly living at home that they protect their loved one’s privacy and, therefore their dignity. Privacy is the right to keep important parts of yourself, to yourself and is central to providing dignified person-cantered care. It is also a courteous practice of everyday life. A personalised approach to caring for your loved one will allow them to control what is unique and special about them. This includes their thoughts, identity, relationships, personal space and their body.

When planning care and providing support to your loved one you can respect their privacy and dignity by considering the following:

  • Giving them space as and when they need it
  • Respecting their views and choices
  • Supporting them to make their own decisions and not making decisions for them
  • Not making assumptions about what they want and how they wish to be treated
  • Providing care and compassion at all times
  • Communicating directly with them about their care

HAVING FUN TOGETHER

Whatever the age and ability of your loved one, having fun and enjoying life will be central to maintaining independence, health and well-being. Many older people will have enjoyed an active and social life and whilst they may be living with reduced mobility or conditions that impact their ability, like dementia or Parkinson’s it is possible to enjoy life. It is important that you talk to your loved one about what they want to do and never impose activities or events you think they may want to do or take part in.

There are many benefits to having fun with your loved one. They will feel more engaged in life, more productive and will have increased levels of self-esteem by feeling connected to others

Many popular activities that older people enjoy are relatively straightforward to organise, do not cost much and can be either be in the home or within the local community These include:

  • Games – board and card games
  • Sports – walking, yoga, water aerobics
  • Gardening and other outdoor pastimes
  • Arts and crafts
  • Interactions with animals, like going to the zoo or asking a friend round with their dog
  • Dancing and other performance arts
  • Going out in the community, for example visiting a museum or theatre
  • Being involved in a community group, like the Women’s Institute

HAVING FUN TOGETHER

Whatever the age and ability of your loved one, having fun and enjoying life will be central to maintaining independence, health and well-being. Many older people will have enjoyed an active and social life and whilst they may be living with reduced mobility or conditions that impact their ability, like dementia or Parkinson’s it is possible to enjoy life. It is important that you talk to your loved one about what they want to do and never impose activities or events you think they may want to do or take part in.

There are many benefits to having fun with your loved one. They will feel more engaged in life, more productive and will have increased levels of self-esteem by feeling connected to others

Many popular activities that older people enjoy are relatively straightforward to organise, do not cost much and can be either be in the home or within the local community These include:

  • Games – board and card games
  • Sports – walking, yoga, water aerobics
  • Gardening and other outdoor pastimes
  • Arts and crafts
  • Interactions with animals, like going to the zoo or asking a friend round with their dog
  • Dancing and other performance arts
  • Going out in the community, for example visiting a museum or theatre
  • Being involved in a community group, like the Women’s Institute

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

It is important that you maintain your own personal health and well-being when providing help for elderly living at home. Caring for an elderly person can at times be emotionally and physically demanding for those providing care. Everyone, understandably needs some time to catch up on daily life, take a holiday or simply have some relaxation time to refresh and recharge.

Respite care at home is a short term and flexible arrangement that allows for a person to be cared for in the comfort and familiarity of their own home by a professional carer, whilst a family carer takes a break from looking after their loved one.

Respite care also provides families with an opportunity to try a 24-hour live-in care arrangement for the first time and take the step into a more permanent arrangement. This gives everyone the opportunity to understand the practical and emotional considerations. It allows you to understand how live-in care works, how it will be managed, how your loved one will respond to a relationship with their carer and adapt to a new way of living that benefits both the person being cared for and the family carer.

Families can also plan with respite home care. A series of bookings can be made over a period with the same care team providing consistency of care for your loved one, whilst providing you with the flexibility to plan breaks away from your role as family carer.

PROFESSIONAL CARE AT HOME

We know through our experience of helping thousands of families across the country, that many families wish to care for their loved one for as long as they can. Sadly, that is not always possible. Deteriorating health and illness can mean that the task of caring for a loved one becomes unmanageable and professional care is needed. When a loved one’s care needs increase it means that it is difficult for a family member to provide the level of care, they need long-term.

It is important if you are considering a professional care arrangement for your loved one that you involve them in the decision-making process. This means that they feel in control of their own life and if appropriate can make choices about the type of care they want and need.

There are two types of professional care you can consider depending on your loved ones needs – live-in care or hourly home care.

Live-in care is when a professional carer comes to live with your loved one at home, to provide around the clock care and support. A live-in care arrangement gives peace of mind that your loved one is getting highly personalised care, 24 hours a day. It is the best care arrangement for those who need complex care, or for those recovering for a stroke. Hourly home care or domiciliary care as it is referred to involves a carer visiting your loved one at certain times of the day to provide support with daily tasks, like getting up, washing and dressing.

There are many benefits of live-in care, and a live-in carer can provide help and support with the following tasks of daily living:

Personal care

Helping your loved one maintain personal hygiene and appearance, including washing, dressing, grooming and toileting.

Companionship

A perfectly matched care team is there to provide all the companionship your loved one needs. The carer will be on hand when you need but will also use discretion and be aware when you need your own space.

Social and emotional support

A care plan will outline all your loved one’s social interests and preferences. The carer will help them to maintain all your activities and hobbies, both in and out of the home. The carer will support them to continue to feel connected to family, friends and the local community facilitating any social events or gatherings they wish to have or attend.

Specialist support for conditions

If your loved one is living with a condition such as dementia, Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis (MS) a professional carer will be trained to provide them with the specialist care they need whilst focusing on improving their quality of life.

Complex care

If your loved one is living with an on-going medical condition, or have been discharged from hospital following treatment and need complex care, a carer can provide nursing-led care. This service is supported by clinical experts to ensure the care provided is to the very highest standard.

Medication’s administration and management

The carer is trained to proactively and efficiently administer medications to ensure your loved one’s optimum health and wellbeing.

Meal planning and cooking

Carers will help you to plan your loved one’s meals according to dietary requirements, nutritional needs and personal preferences, including cooking their favourite meals and shopping for their groceries.

Domestic tasks

A professional carer will ensure your loved one’s cleaning regime and domestic household tasks are maintained. They will ensure their home is the way it always has been. The carer will help with household administration and will be happy to run errands out of the home.

Considering the cost of care

When you are considering how to care for an elderly person at home, you will need to think about how you will pay for the care that is needed. If you have decided to look after your loved one, you may be forced to consider your employment situation and reduce the hours you work, which may not be financially viable for you. It is then worth looking at this in line with whether there is an any funding available to you to have care at home. You may be entitled to healthcare funding through your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) if your loved one has an identified healthcare need. Depending on their financial circumstances they may qualify for all or part social care funding from your local authority.

If you do not qualify for any funding, you will be required to pay for the care yourself, this is referred to as self-funding care. There are many options as to how you can finance the care yourself and care fees insurance policies that could pay your care fees over the longer term. It might be that you qualify for some funding to meet your care and support costs, and that you part fund the remainder yourself.

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