If you’re between the ages of 45 and 64, you’re more likely to be caring for elderly parents or other relatives than at any other age.
This may also be the time when your career is becoming increasingly demanding, or you may have children of your own to look after miles away from the parent you’re caring for. So to say your caring commitments may be putting a strain on your everyday life can be, in many cases, an understatement.
According to the most recent figures from Carers UK, there are 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers. Most of these people, approximately 40% of them, care for a parent or a parent-in-law, with 4% caring for a grandparent and 7% for another relative. And while younger carers tend to look after someone living in their household, those aged 45 and 64 are much more likely to be caring for someone living elsewhere.
There are many issues you may have to face while caring for an ageing parent, depending on your circumstances (including how far away you live from the relative you’re caring for). Here are just a few of the things that may affect you from the outset:
- If your parent can’t live on their own any longer, will you be caring for them at their home, at your home or will they have to consider moving into sheltered housing or a care home?
- Will your parent have to move closer to you – or you to them?
- How will you juggle your caring commitments with your job and/or looking after your own family?
- How will your social life be affected – will you have time for friends?
- Will your parent need special equipment, including mobility aids, to help them at home?
- If you have siblings, how can you make sure you each take equal responsibility in caring for your parent?
- What care and health professionals will you have to liaise with, such as GPs and local authority workers?
For many carers money is also a major issue. For instance, you may have to consider selling your parent’s home to pay for their care, or you may have to give up your job if want to care for them full time.
Here are some of the main things you should be aware of that may help you financially:
Local authorities provide care services to help with daily tasks. Ask for a needs assessment for your parent to find out what’s available, and a means tested financial assessment to see if they can get any of those services for free.
Grants for home adaptations
Local authorities also offer Disabled Facilities Grants to help modify your parent’s home to help them live independently (in Scotland the grant is called a Scheme of Assistance). Social services often also carry out minor home alterations for free.
There’s also a range of benefits that you and the person you’re caring for may be entitled to, including Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independent Payment and Attendance Allowance. Find out more about these and other benefits at gov.uk.
If your parent has to go into a care home, your local authority will carry out a needs assessment to find out if they qualify for financial support. Depending on their income, savings and assets, your parent may have their care home fees paid in full by the local authority or in part – where you or another relative pays the rest. Or they may be fully responsible for paying their care bills.
Set up a power of attorney
Meanwhile, you may also have to think about managing your parent’s finances if they have dementia or memory problems, a physical disability or if they can’t deal with their finances themselves because they’re ill or in hospital. Ask their bank for a third-party mandate form if you want to deal with your parent’s bank on their behalf, or consider discussing setting up a power of attorney with them. Find out more by reading our Guide to power of attorney.
Where to get help
There are of course, many more things to consider when you decide to take on the role of carer for an elderly parent. Knowing where to go for help can make all the difference.
At CABA we have a range of free services that can help you as a carer, including support with the ‘top up’ costs of residential care, we can also provide grants and donations for home adaptations, as well as end of life and bereavement support.
And if your elderly parent has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, we also work with Dementia UK to provide you with access to specialist dementia nurses called Admiral Nurses. Contact us on +44 (0) 1788 556 366 to speak to an advisor and to find out how we can help you.
The following organisations also offer advice and support on a range of issues:
- Age UK: information on all aspects of being a carer (0800 169 2081)
- Carers Trust: Help, advice and an online community for carers. It also has a national network of carers’ centres that you can visit for help
- Carers UK: More help, advice and an online carers’ forum (0808 808 7777)
- Alzheimer’s Society: Charity providing information and support services for people with dementia as well as those caring for someone with dementia (0300 222 1122)
- Citizens Advice: For help with debt and financial problems and claiming benefits, as well as practical help for carers
- Money Advice Service: Provides free money advice on a range of issues, including choosing care services, support for carers, paying for the cost of care, claiming benefits and support with debt (0800 138 7777)
- My Ageing parent.com: Website set up to help families care for elderly loved ones, including a forum for people caring for parents
- Royal Voluntary Service: Volunteer organisation that helps older people stay active, independent and contributing to society
Call us on +44 (0) 1788 556 336 to find out what support we can give you to help you care for an elderly parent and live your life as fully as possible. You can also read more about how we help carers by downloading our Care Matters newsletter.