practical steps to take when caring for ageing parents

There’s a lot to think about when you become a carer, and as your caring responsibilities increase. Everything from where the person you’re caring for lives, to managing finances, to dealing with doctors. This guide shares what you need to think about when caring for someone.

You’re more likely to care for elderly parents or relatives between the ages of 45 and 64 than at any other age. For many people, this is when their career demands increase, they have children of their own to look after, and they may live miles away from the parent they’re caring for. 

So, to say caring commitments could put 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 carers in the UK – that’s 1 in 8 adults.  Approximately 40% of these people care for a parent or a parent-in-law, with 4% caring for a grandparent, and 7% for another relative.  

And, while younger carers often look after someone living in their household, those aged 45 and 64 are more likely to care for someone who doesn’t live with them. 

care questions to think about and plan for 

It can be hard to know where to start when a parent or relative needs support to stay safe and healthy. Understanding their needs, and the options available to you, might feel overwhelming.  

Depending on your circumstances, including how far away you live from the person you’re caring for, here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  • will you be caring for them at their home or at your home? 
  • 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? 
  • does your own health allow for you to care for others? 
  • how will your social life be affected – will you have time for friends? 
  • will your relative need special equipment like mobility aids? 
  • if you have siblings, how can you take equal responsibility? 
  • what care and health professionals will you have to liaise with, such as GPs and local authority workers? 

financial implications 

Money can be a huge source of stress for many carers. Care can be expensive, and it can require you to change your employment situation. Here are some of the things to be aware of: 

carer support 

Your local authority provides care services to help with daily tasks. Contact them and ask for a needs assessment and a means-tested financial assessment. This will show you what’s available and if they can get any of the services for free.  

home adaptation grants 

Local authorities offer Disabled Facilities Grants to modify your relative’s home so that they can live more independently (in Scotland the grant is called a Scheme of Assistance).  Social services can also carry assessments for minor aids and adaptations for free, such as grab bars or stair railings. 

benefits entitlement 

There are a range of benefits that you, and the person you’re caring for, may be entitled to. This includes Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independent Payment, and Attendance Allowance.  Find out more about these and other benefits here. 

support for care home fees 

If your relative needs to move into a care home, your local authority will carry out a means-tested financial assessment to find out if they qualify for financial support.  Depending on their income, savings, and assets, they may have their care home fees paid in full by the local authority, or in part. Or they may be fully responsible for paying their care bills. 

set up a power of attorney 

You may have to think about managing your relative’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 their bank on their behalf, or consider discussing setting up a power of attorney with them.

what if you live abroad? 

It can be harder to support a relative when you live abroad, so it helps if you have a frank conversation with them about planning for the future. 

Setting up FaceTime for them so that you can have a face-to-face conversation can also put your mind at ease much more than a phone call, and it’s cheaper, too! 

If you know someone who lives nearby like a neighbour or another relative, keep in touch with them. Not only can they check in with your parent, but they can also be an additional help if you need something further down the line. 

remember… 

Your relative will be keen to maintain their independence. Try to involve them early and often when planning for their care.  It will probably take a few conversations to sort everything, so try not to swoop in and make decisions for them. It may be helpful to start with one or two areas so that they don’t feel overwhelmed.  

where to get help 

There are many more things to consider when you start caring for a relative. Knowing where to go for help can make all the difference. 

At caba, we have a range of free services to 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, and end of life and bereavement support. 

If your elderly relative has dementia, we work with Dementia UK to provide you with access to specialist dementia nurses called Admiral Nurses. 

the following organisations also offer some useful advice and support:  

Age UK (0800 169 2081) 

Information on all aspects of being a carer. 

Carers Trust 

An online community for carers where you can get help and advice. It also has a national network of carers’ centres that you can visit. 

Carers UK (0808 808 7777) 

More help, advice, and an online carers’ forum. 

Alzheimer’s Society (0300 222 1122) 

Charity providing information and support services for people with dementia, as well as those caring for someone with dementia. 

Citizens Advice 

Get help with debt and financial problems, claiming benefits, and practical help for carers. 

Money Advice Service (0800 138 7777) 

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. 

Royal Voluntary Service 

Volunteer organisation that helps older people stay active, independent, and contributing to society. 

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)1, ACA students2, ICAEW staff members3, and the family and carers of members and students4

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is or was dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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