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.
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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 loved one they’re caring for. This is when they'll likely need carer support the most.
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.
It can be hard to know where to start when a loved one 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:
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:
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.
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.
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. There's more detailed information about these and other benefits in our Understanding UK Benefits article.
Use the benefits calculator from our partnerTurn2us to find out if you are entitled claim any UK benefits. Alternatively, contact us for individual advice from one of our specialist support officers. We can help you with your application or possibly challenge a benefit decision.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Information on all aspects of being a carer.
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.
More help, advice, and an online carers’ forum.
Charity providing information and support services for people with dementia, as well as those caring for someone with dementia.
Get help with debt and financial problems, claiming benefits, and practical help for carers.
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.
Volunteer organisation that helps older people stay active, independent, and contributing to society.
We’ll guide you through the maze of organisations and services you may need to use. We’re here with financial support, expert advice and emotional support.
We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students.
You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer page.
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.