Most of us will have to face some tough choices in life regarding our parents, I know I did…
They have spent their adult lives ensuring we are well equipped to deal with life as it happens. They’ve ensured we are financially capable of taking care of ourselves and our families. And they’ve always lent a sympathetic ear when things have been tough for us. Sadly, there comes a time in life when the roles need to be reversed.
Acing can be a cruel and unpleasant process at times. For most people the ‘silver’ years are comfortable. Retirement offers time to meet new people and renew old pastimes and hobbies. You want to focus on enjoying the money that took a lifetime of sacrifice to save. But for some older people, aging can be unkind to the body, causing aches pains and disabilities. And for others, dementia and other mental problems can take their toll.
If you and your parent have taken the decision to move in together, you may need to make some adaptations to your home. It’s rare that you will need to give up your beloved home altogether, but often parents and children choose to invest in a bigger place together. The choice is something that you will have to discuss in detail. You may want to write a list of all the pros and cons.
If you’ve decided to adapt your home, there are plenty of things you can do. Why not consider installing a downstairs bathroom for convenience? If this isn’t practical, a stair lift can help an elderly person safely move from floor to floor. If your parent requires a wheelchair full time, then a full life may be an option in your home too. The alternative here may be to remodel the downstairs area to include a sleeping and bathroom suite for your parent.
Perhaps your parent still wants to be an active and independent member of the family. Why not consider an extension or garage conversion? These could create the annex they need to maintain their independent living but stay close to the main house for support. If you still have children at home, this can be the preferred arrangement so you can all continue to live separate lives as needed.
There are plenty of other adaptations you can make to your home to help an elderly relative stay independent. Simple things like changing the turn taps to paddles, or providing a seating bar in the bathroom can be so helpful. A walk-in bath tub or wet room can reduce the need to step over things or bend over for the controls. Hand rails for slopes or steps outside the house are essential to help those with weaker legs manage safely.
Those suffering from dementia may need a little extra care around the house. It’s easy to forget we’ve left a pan on the hob when we’re distracted and busy. For someone with dementia, it can become a real risk. By simply putting a wipe board up on the wall with a few reminders, you can help your elderly relative make the checks they need. Place medication in a special pot with the days and times on to help them remember what to take and when.
It’s easy to forget to eat and drink with dementia as well. Why not aim to take meals together? A solid routine is essential with dementia. Moving in with you will require a new routine to be set. Help your elderly relative set this up by using things around the house to help remind them what comes next. Confusion is one of the worst parts of dementia. Some families have a big binder or photo album on the coffee shop labeled ‘read me’. Inside they can put simple details like the date, some photos of the people they’re likely to see that day, and other information that may help. This is a similar approach used for those with amnesia, so it might not be entirely suitable for your circumstances.
As time goes by, you may all need to consider the option of more care. It’s not practical for working children to care full time for an elderly parent. Personal care is also very hard to manage when you are related to the patient. Instead, a nurse or carer can come into the home. Or you might need to discuss using a nursing or care home for accommodation.
If you have a look at the online details from HC-Care-Homes.co.uk, you can see what the different types of care might be like. For parents with dementia, a care home may be the only option left to you. It can simply be too dangerous for your parent to cope with independent living. And it can be too much for you to care for a dementia patient twenty-four hours a day. A care home provides the level of attention needed in the safest environment.
Once the decision has been made to move to a care home, it’s important you are still around in their lives. Spending time with someone who lives in nursing care can help you both make the transition. There are lots of things you can do together. You might read a book out loud, or talk about what’s happening in the news. Perhaps you have some board games to play or a movie you’d both like to watch. Day trips out are also possible in the majority of cases. Why not head to the park for a walk, or enjoy some retail therapy?
Aging will happen to all of us, and for many an independent life can still be enjoyed. As the body becomes frailer, it may be easier and safer to enjoy each other’s company under one roof. But with some age-related illnesses like dementia, a care home could enable you both to maintain a healthy relationship. It removes the pressure of being a round-the-clock carer. It’s not easy to watch your parent age, but we’ll always love our mums and dads, no matter what…