Facing the unexpected challenges of caring for your parents
In the UK, there are currently seven million carers– which equates to roughly one in ten people. Around three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives.
Caring for someone can be difficult, and this can be made even more challenging when the person you are caring for is a parent. Both the physical and emotional tolls can be a lot harder, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re going to face so you can prepare yourself more.
Caring for an elderly parent can rack up quite a large financial bill, which can be difficult for a lot of families to manage. Utility bills, groceries and medicines can all start to stack up.
If you also require at-home nursing care that you can’t provide, then this can really add large sums to the financial cost.
If you find that you need to take even more time off work, or possibly give up work altogether, then this can really narrow down your household income too.
Often, to combat the financial hardships, many will sell their parents’ home to cover the cost of either adapting their own home or covering the cost of the nursing home bills. This can be tough though, as it means losing out on your inheritance.
Often, one of the trickiest challenges to face can be the fact that many parents will feel that they are losing their independence. This can sometimes result in fights, where the parent is fighting against what they see as an invasion of their independence.
This can be tricky, as often they will need help – especially if they are in danger of hurting themselves or if they need a lot of practical help around the house.
To combat this, make sure you have these conversations early on in the process, so that you are both aware of what you would like to achieve if the need arises. Some things may not come to pass, but if they do, it’s good to have agreed things early on.
Adapting the home
Most people’s homes are very personal to them, and laid out exactly how they prefer it. However, as we get older, certain adaptations will need to be made to the house.
This can take two forms. Either your parent will need their home adapted, or you will adapt your home when they come to live with you.
This can mean adding in things like grab bars around the house, or making the bathroom more accessible. It can even mean widening the door frames and making sure that there is more room to manoeuvre.
But again, make sure that you are having these conversations nice and early. If it is your parents’ house that is being adapted, make sure they understand exactly why the changes need to be made.
If it’s your house, talk to your parents to make sure that they don’t feel that they are imposing on you. Help them to understand that these adaptions need to be made so that the house works for everyone, and not just for some.
One of the biggest constraints when caring for an elderly parent can be time. This is especially true if you have a family of your own to look after. Caring for children, potential grandchildren and your partner can be hectic, but caring for an elderly parent on top of all this can be even more difficult.
The key is to make sure you have a routine. If you have siblings, see if they can help out too, in order to make sure that you can balance your time evenly between your parents, partner and children.
Ultimately, communication is the key here. Make sure that you all communicate effectively and honestly to ensure that nobody feels left out, or taken advantage of. Make sure that you explore every option available to you and your parents to ensure that you all have a healthy, happy life.