Looking after elderly relatives in your own home is something more of us will be doing as we have an ageing population. As many families struggle with financial pressures, often it makes sense to pool resources and live in a multi-generation household. Whether due to frailty, loneliness or bereavement, many older people would love to live with their loved ones. My advice would be to think about the emotional and practical implications before making life-changing decisions. Honest communication is key along with practical stuff such as deciding if you need to install a stairlift in your home and working out which welfare benefits may be available to your family.
There are certain times when it really hits us that we are actually adults. When your parents need you to care for them, you start to realise that you will be doing some of the very things they did for you when you were growing up. Tasks might range from offering a listening ear to more intensive care such as helping with dressing, toileting and personal hygiene. You may have to accompany your parent to medical appointments and ensure they take their medication at the right time.
Juggling it all
The very time when your parent needs to live with you often comes whilst you are bringing up your children and also trying to make a living. It can be a very stressful time and it is vital you recognise yourself as a carer and seek support. You may feel isolated but there are lots of people out there who can help from your local authority to a wide range of charities. It is a sign of strength to say that you need help and to seek it. Only by looking after yourself well can you care effectively for those around you so never think it is selfish to say you need support too.
When my mother died, I knew I wanted my father to come to live with me. He was adamant that whilst he liked the idea he would need his own personal space. It took me a year to find the perfect accommodation with an annexe attached to the house. We had some amazing years of memories together before he passed away. He had such quality time with his grandchildren treating them, reading to them and laughing with them. In turn, they learned so much from him and treasure their memories of him. I supported Dad as his needs became greater and he was lovely to have around for me too. We had fun trips out together with a regular Tuesday lunch date and also fish and chips on Fridays. He shared stories that he had not told me when my mum was alive. It was a very precious time for all of us.
Things that can help
You can meet other carers in person or online. You can ask your local authority for the assessment of your elderly relative’s care needs and also your support needs. You may be able to claim welfare benefits or to apply for grants. Depending on the individual, your relative may need special equipment which might be anything from mobility aids through to a specially adapted vehicle. Ensure you look into things like Meals on Wheels and laundry collection services that just might make life a little simpler for you all.
I would recommend looking after elderly relatives in your own home wholeheartedly so long as you have the right support in place. Of course, individual circumstances differ but with a little goodwill and imagination, it is possible to live together and thrive in a multi-generation household.