Thinking about care needs
Most of you will now be finding yourselves in a position of having to decide on the best way to care for a parent or elderly relative without ever having considered the options before.
Let’s introduce the subjectWhether or not you have time on your side, it can contribute to the best outcome if you are able to have a conversation with the elderly person to try to get an idea of what would suit them best.
- Think about what you are going to say before you open the conversation.
- Choose the right moment when you have time to talk without feeling stressed or being interrupted.
- Your loved one may well be trying to avoid thinking about the subject, so you will need to broach it with sensitivity. If they are not ready for the conversation, it is unlikely to be productive.
- Perhaps you could open the subject by talking about someone else who has been making a similar decision.
- Try not to let them change the topic too easily but don’t force the issue; break off and re-convene at a more auspicious time if they are reluctant.
- Make sure they understand that you want them to be as safe and happy as possible.
- Talk about the various options and gauge their reactions.
- Give plenty of reassurance that everyone is working for their comfort and care.
Approaching it with sensitivityHowever worried you may be, this is not a time for criticism or complaint. It is quite likely that your loved one is well aware that their movement or capability is reducing. That is a hard thing to admit, so while it is important that you broach the subject of extra care with them, you do so in a sensitive way. Remember that the word ‘care’ itself can be loaded with connotations of lost independence and failing capabilities.Make sure you communicate the fact that the reality can sometimes be the exact opposite. A sensible, personalised care plan can help to rejuvenate a person by giving them the support and tools they need in order to continue living a full and happy life. That is the aim of all Saga Care at Home options.
Taking a step forwardWhatever longer-term decisions you make, it is possible to introduce small changes that can make a big difference to someone’s quality of life when they are beginning to find certain tasks difficult.
- Access the range of local services via the GP, such as district nurse care, free flu jabs, prescriptions and eye tests.
- Investigate day centres or special travel arrangements.
- Provide independence aids such as hold-on bars, grabber tools or kitchen gadgets for those with limited dexterity.
- Install a shower seat or other bathroom supports, a walk-in shower or a wetroom.
- Install a stair lift.
- Provide an adjustable bed or chair, a walking frame, a trolley or even a mobility scooter.
- Depending on the problem, there may well be local support group offering activities, and offering support and encouragement.
- Other family members may be able to offer some time to help.
Care for couplesYou don’t need to think in terms only of individuals living alone who need care. This is equally appropriate to couples.
What are the signs that something needs to change?
In some cases, a fall or an illness may result in changes having to be made suddenly.
But most commonly, small signs that a person is less able to cope begin to show themselves. You may notice that the cleanliness of the home is not what it once was, that your parent or loved one takes longer to do small tasks, or perhaps has given up a hobby they once enjoyed.
This is why Saga Care at Home can offer a range of options to suit the level of care required, from someone popping in for half an hour each day, to a Carer living in the home and on call at almost all times.
Markers that indicate that additional care is needed;
- Regular trips and falls
- Frequent constipation
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Personal hygiene issues
- Finding daily tasks difficult
- Not eating well
How do I make the choice?Each individual circumstance is different and you will probably only be able to consider some of the available options. You need to think about the welfare of the Client but also how you can best support them without taking on more responsibility than you are able to maintain.
- Living with you: If you have space in your home, this may be an option. You may be able to provide the care that is needed, or organise visiting Carers in support.
- Visiting Carers: Carers can visit one or more times each day to undertake specific tasks, such as bathing and dressing, cooking or light housework, to enable someone to remain at home.
- Live-in Carers: For those who need more support but wish to remain in their own home, this is becoming an increasingly popular option.
- Residential home: Many residential homes provide excellent care for the elderly.
Decision-making factorsTry to consider the decision from all angles and the effect it will have on everyone concerned. The decision may be influenced by:
- Individual wishes: The Client may have very strong views about remaining at home.
- Personality: Are they likely to find a move difficult? In what environment would they be happier?
- Location: Whether or not you or other relatives or friends live nearby and can provide a degree of support.
- Work: If you are in full-time employment, you may not be able to take on a Carer’s role.
- Physical ability: You may have your own health issues to contend with.
- Responsibilities: Children or other family ties will have an effect.
- How able is the person: What kind of support do they need?
- How much extra support do they need: Will additional help mean they can remain at home?
- What is the financial situation: Consider the costs of each alternative.
- Safety: Is there a risk of injury if the person is alone for much of the time?
Why should I choose Saga to help?While you are making a difficult choice for perhaps the first time and obviously want that choice to be the right one, the plethora of information and advice can be confusing.
That’s why the Saga team is happy to provide you with all the background to their range of services, and encourage you to contact them for free advice on all your options and to answer any questions you may have. From their years of professional experience, they can help to make sure that yours is an informed choice. Saga adheres to a Client Charter that guarantees the highest-quality care. They are members of the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), whose mission is to promote high-quality, sustainable care services so that people who wish to continue to live at home can do so and still remain part of their local community.
What is the best option for me?Whether you are choosing visiting care or live-in care, the aim is to make it possible for your loved one to remain in their own home, which is the ideal scenario for most elderly people.
- They can stay in an atmosphere they know, surrounded by their possessions and memories.
- Contact with local friends and neighbours is uninterrupted.
- There’s no alteration to their GP services.
- They can get help with their housework, cooking and personal care.
- Avoid long days on their own.
- Keep their pets.
- Stick to their favourite routines.
Live-in care is an increasingly popular alternative to assisted living in a care home, enabling the client to stay independent in their own home with specialised 24-hour care.