If you're caring for aging parents or loved ones find out what benefits and support is available.
Becoming a carer for a parent or loved one brings a roller coaster of emotions. Concern, anxiety, guilt and frustration against the whole social care system are just some of the emotions I went through when caring for my mother.
The hardest thing is suddenly realising your parents are becoming old and frail and that sometime in the not too distant future you're going to lose them.
They have been the ones that nurtured and cared for you. They've probably supported you in all of life's ups and downs through childhood and adulthood and suddenly the roles are reversed as you become the carer and they become more and more reliant on you for support.
The main problem with caring for aging parents is that they are fighting to maintain their independence while we are eager to do things for them to make their life easier. It's hard to get the balance right.
I know my parents felt guilty asking me for help because they knew I had a job, a home and family of my own to look after.
The other issue with caring for aging parents is that children don't always live close by. My parents lived 120 miles away from me. When my Father's health started to deteriorate he recognized that they needed to move closer which they were able to do.
If you're caring for aging parents at a distance the first thing you need to do is gently explore the idea of them moving closer to you. It does make everyone's life a little easier. If this is not an option then you need to make sure care and support is in place.
If you suddenly find yourself in a caring role for someone who is very ill or elderly and becoming increasingly frail you don't know what's available in the way of support. I found there was a distinct lack of information given to me by the GP's and Hospitals that were involved with my Mother's care. Most of the information took month's to reach me simply because of my ignorance of such matters, and the lack of communication from Health Care Services.
For a comprehensive guide to care and support in the UK go to
If you're caring for aging parents or someone who has an illness which will will get progressively worse they may be elligible for an Attendance Allowance.
There are two levels of Attendance Allowance:
The money can be used to provide help in the home.
Attendance allowance is available for anyone who needs it regardless of how much savings they have. Go to DirectGov/Attendance Allowance to find out the current amount and how to claim for this and other related benefits that your elderly parents may be elligible for.
The Attendance Allowance can be used to pay for support at home for either
You can choose to employ people from local care organizations which your local authority or local support organizations can advise you on. Because mum was in a retirement flat I made enquiries of the House Manager, who told me the care companies who came in to assist other residents.
When you're caring for aging parents or loved ones, your time is never your own. One thing that you may consider is arranging for them to attend a local Day Care Centre. This helps to free you the carer up for the day, and provides some social contact and stimulation for the person you're caring for.
Contact your local Council to find out where local Day Centres are.
If you're caring for an aging parent or loved one who's health deteriorates rapidly, and it's obvious that they're going to need ongoing specialist nursing care, they may qualify for NHS-Funded Care. You can find out more by downloading this PDF booklet NHS Continuing Healthcare and NHS-funded Nursing Care.
Caring for aging parents or loved ones is exhausting both emotionally and physically. I know I've been there. It's very important that you don't neglect your own needs.
You can arrange respite care for 1 or 2 weeks a year or more, either at a local care home or hospice, whichever is relevant. This enables you to have a complete break. Don't let your relative make you feel guilty about this. They probably will not want to go but you owe it yourself.
Everyone needs a break to re-charge their batteries. If you are physically and emotionally exhausted you're no good to anyone least of all to those you're caring for.
Arranging respite care for aging parents is also a good way to test out facilities at local Care Homes without any commitment. It gives you an idea on how your elderly relative would react should the need arise in the future for full-time care.
Try and find the time to attend some Carers Support Groups. These can help enormously even if it's only once a month. You are with people who understand what you're going through because they are experiencing similar situations. I also found it valuable to gain information. I picked up lots of helpful tips and advice from other carers.
For example Mum had Alzheimers Dementia and every now and again I used to attend a local support group. I found the advice I received from other more experienced carers invaluable.
They advised me that anyone with Dementia was exempt from paying Council Tax on their property. Mum had been ill for 3 years before I found that out. No-one had ever told me that.
When I applied to the Council they didn't seem too sure either, but I pursued it and eventually with a letter from her Doctor we were able to claim. This released extra money each month which we were able to use towards her ongoing care package.
Check out the Alzheimers website for more information on exemption from Council Tax https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/legal-financial/discounts-disregards-exemptions-council-tax
Care UK has published a free guide to help families caring for aging parents or loved one living with dementia.
The publication, "As Easy as ABC", is based on their philosophy of Activity Based Care and brings together 100 practical suggestions from specialist teams working in care homes across the country.
The guide is perfect for anyone caring for someone in their own home
and those who want to make the most of their visits to loved ones who
have moved into residential care. You will find a link to download the Guide here http://www.careuk.com/our-services/care-and-support-older-people/caring-people-dementia
You may also find their latest guide "Eating As We Age" helpful which is full of interesting ideas and recipes for encouraging older people to eat.
Quite often their appetite can diminish either through illness, loneliness or depression.
After my Father died my Mother lost an alarming amount of weight and for a long time it was hard to get her to eat or drink enough.
The "Eating As We Age" guide summarises 20 tips, ideal for family carers who are concerned about the health and well-being of their ageing friends and family. It's free and can be downloaded at this link http://www.careuk.com/care-homes/eating-as-we-age.
Carer's Allowance is a taxable benefit for people who cannot work or have a low income because they are looking after someone who is ill or disabled. You may be able to get Carer's Allowance if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for aging parents or loved ones.
The amount you get may vary if you are in receipt of certain other benefits, including State Pension.
For more information on this and all of the above go to DirectGov/Caring for Someone
Have you got experience of caring for aging parents or loved ones that are ill or who have mobility problems that you would like to share with others?
As a carer are you feeling isolated, or despairing that your life will never be your own again?
Do you find it deeply rewarding and would like to pass on any tips to others in a similar situation.
Tell us who you're caring for and why. What it means to you, and whether you've been able to find the support and information you need to help you.
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