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Planning Retirement Online



Caring for Elderly Parents and Relatives Living in their Own Home

On the face of it, parents living in their own home seems the best option. They retain their independence, they are not uprooted from the home that they love and you, the children, can feel that they are retaining their dignity. They may also be able to get support from social Services.

On the other hand, they may feel that they are lonely and isolated, especially if you and other family members live some way away. It may also mean that their home needs modification, with the installation of ramps, a stair lift and other living aids. To get more information on living aids, go to our Living Aids section. You may also need to think about things such as heating and lighting modifications, access to cupboards, high chairs and bathroom handrails.

Caring for Elderly Parents and Relatives links

The feeling of loneliness and isolation that they feel might transmit itself to you, making you feel guilty and feeling that you have to make constant visits to see them. This might disrupt your family life and cause tensions all round. It can be a pretty distressing experience for you, the carer. If you go to Carers (Carers Chat) you can join in a message board with people who do have difficult situations looking after elderly parents who live in their own homes.

However, it may well be that living in their own home is what your parents want to do and it may well be the best solution. If so, and if they need help with day-to-day jobs and so on, there may be help available from social services. There is the meals-on-wheels service, day centres and local pensioners' groups that may be able to help. Your elderly parents may get help in carrying out personal and/or household tasks in order for them to be able to live at home and, depending on their circumstances, they may get financial help in paying for these services. For more information on helping your relatives maintain independent living as well as information on support with everyday care and personal tasks see our Guide to Living with Ill Health in Later Life and our Independent Living page.

Don't forget, too, the critical role that neighbours can play. If your parents have good neighbours, you should ask them to keep an eye open for your elderly parents and ask them to pop in from time to time to check how they are. On the other hand, lack of friendly neighbours may be a factor in deciding if living in their own home is, in fact, the best solution for your elderly parents.

Over the past few years the Government has undertaken a review of adult social care funding and there have been some major reforms. Age UK has produced a comprehensive report into the subject, called 'Paying for Care and Support at Home'. It's quite a long read but you can pick out the sections that you need to look at.

It may be that your parents would benefit from a live-in carer. if so, there are some private organisations that provide this service. Go to Helping Hands Home Care to see the type of service that can be provided. Alternatively, you might want carers to call in at certain times to your parents' home. This might be done by social services or, again, you can do it privately. Do investigate the cost - you might find it cheaper to go to a local private organisation than to do it through social services.

For information and advice on what help is available at home and how to fund it see Age UK's page on Help at Home. It is important to assess your relative’s eligibility for benefits, in particular non-means tested benefits such as Attendance Allowance which is payable to those who need increased personal care costs due to disability or illness.

For more information about all aspects of having care provision at home go to Independent Age. See also the comprehensive literature available form the EAC, Elderly Accommodation Counsel, a charity providing information, advice and guidance to help older people make informed choices about meeting their housing and care needs.

If your elderly parents are quite capable of looking after themselves but you feel that you want to be in close contact, you can buy an alarm system that, once your parent has pressed it, it rings your phone and you can talk to them to assess the situation. Tunstall provide a whole range of services such as 'Telehealth' and 'Telecare' that enable elderly people to have greater independence whilst being monitored. You might also feel that a system whereby your elderly parent can ring a call centre who will then immediately connect them with you, a relation, a friend or the emergency services is a good idea. If so, take a look at our page on UK Home Security.

Whilst your elderly parents are fit and healthy it makes sense for them to live at home, particularly if you live quite close. However, as they get more frail then, whilst it may still be the best option, other choices come into play. So go to the link box and read about the alternatives.


This Guide is written by Rosemary Martin supported by members of the LaterLife team. Rosemary brings her first hand experience and expertise as a former Residential Care Home Proprietor and Manager.
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