Looking after elderly parents can be an incredibly complicated undertaking, especially if we’re talking about full-time care. There can often be many more things to take into consideration that you never even thought about before. Life itself is complicated and when you’re talking about a seismic shift as significant as this, there’s a lot to take into account.
However, this doesn’t mean that the issues are insurmountable or even need to be a cause of stress. You simply need to have considered everything necessary in order to ensure a smooth transition. With that in mind, here are some of the most important costs and considerations when looking after your elderly parents.
Costs of Looking After Elderly Parents
The cost of unpaid hours in figures
While you may not view helping out your loved ones as work, the fact is that when caring for elderly parents, you are doing a job for free. For some, this can be offset by carers allowance, although the benefits system regarding care costs and the elderly is so complicated that we’ve had to dedicate an entire article to it, so look there for a breakdown of all the things to take into account.
Regardless, it is estimated that unpaid care work comes to a whopping £57 billion, according to the Office of National Statistics, with other estimations going much higher than that, even topping the £100 billion benchmark. Whatever the case, unpaid care represents a fortune in unpaid work.
The cost of unpaid hours in reality
In terms of real financial costs, you may think that these numbers don’t really make much difference to your life. You’re happy to help and hypothetically getting paid for things you’re doing out of love doesn’t impact you. However, for many, providing care means time off work or turning down opportunities – things that will have an actual, real life immediate effect in terms of the money in your bank account.
Every individual situation is different. It’s just important to take all potential financial impacts into account. You may find that you end up saving money with a small amount of help in the home for example, as this can prevent care commitments from interfering with your working life at important times.
Things to Consider When Caring for Elderly Parents
Be sensitive to concerns
One of the most common concerns as elderly people start to need more help is that they will become a burden to their family members. There’s a few ways of helping with this issue. Have an open, honest conversation about what help is needed and what is the best way to provide that help. Often in our eagerness to please, we can actually end up helping out in areas where it’s not needed. By talking, you can not only allow the person you’re caring for to retain as much independence as possible, but you can also save your own time by reducing unnecessary tasks. Of course, communication is the best way of dealing with pretty much any concern but is absolutely vital when dealing a major life change.
If you’re moving in, be respectful to their home
Often people’s care needs mean that you might go to live with your elderly parents in order to help them whenever they need it. First and foremost, make sure this is what they want, as this is a huge adjustment for everyone involved, and poor communication in this regard can cause future issues. Remember that if you do move in, it is their home and you should make sure you treat it as such. Don’t change things without permission for example, as this may lead to greater feelings of them losing independence. Also, while loneliness is one of the most pressing issues facing elderly people, constantly being around anyone can cause friction from time to time. Therefore, make sure you give them space when it's needed.
Don’t make your relationship all about care needs
One mistake that is often made when an elderly parent’s care needs become greater is that the relationship between you and them becomes solely focused on the practicalities of their care needs. While important, forgetting to spend quality time together is bad for you, them and your relationship. Do things together that are fun or even take them to events where they can socialise with others to widen their interactions and give you the opportunity to spend time by yourself.
Be flexible in your care approach
Remember that rarely does someone’s care needs remain the same. So, you need to be vigilant in making sure that your care standards adapt with their needs. Ongoing communication is key here, as is looking at for any physical issues, for example if they have greater difficulty standing. Just because your care was adequate a year ago, that doesn’t mean more isn’t needed today.
It’s also important to remember that if it does become too much for you, in terms of your ability to care with increased medical issues or even balance it with work or family, there’s absolutely no shame in getting some extra help. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed or let anyone down: it just means that you’re human and can only do so much. If you are struggling to cope with elderly parents living at home, the person or people you’re caring for are bound to notice and that can put a big strain your relationship. At Melrose Care Home, we’ve got plenty of different options so that we can tailor our service to the care needs of the individual should any additional help be required.