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Planning Retirement Online

Caring for Elderly Parents and Relatives Living with You

When they are caring for elderly parents, many people choose the option of having them live with them. In many ways, it's the easiest option because it means they are there for you to keep an eye on, you don't have to travel to see them and, psychologically, it avoids the feelings of guilt that overcome lots of us.

Caring for Elderly Parents and Relatives links

For many families, it will involve having a 'granny flat' or a separate part of the house. There are advantages in this because it provides some independence for your parent(s) whilst, at the same time, having them 'at hand'. It also, of course, means that your own family life is not disrupted too much. If you do have a separate part of the house for your elderly relatives remember that you will need to think about things such as heating, lighting and the other practical things that are shown on the Living in their Own Home page. It might be possible to pay for the conversion, if you need it, through the sale of your parents' house. On the other hand, there is a lot of stress involved in this process of selling a house and converting another, so it is not something to be undertaken lightly. It's worth noting that there is no longer separate council tax liability for self-contained granny flats.

Whether you have a separate part of the house or not, it may be necessary to have some boundaries, so that everyone knows what the 'rules' are. It can be very stressful having elderly people with you constantly, so it is better to discuss the arrangements at the outset to avoid problems further down the line. As we discuss on the front page of this Guide, the discussions that you need to have with your elderly parents can be difficult, but they need to take place, nevertheless.

When you are looking after elderly parents in your own home it is more likely that you will become a carer. This obviously depends how fit and active your parents are but, to a certain degree, you are likely to have to take on caring responsibilities. If you do find yourself in that situation, below are some things to consider:

  • Prioritise the care needs - you almost certainly won't be able to do everything and probably your elderly parent won't want you to. One of the priorities is time for you!
  • Investigate respite care, day centres and other extra care that might be available. Contact your local Social Services department. They will be in the local phone book under 'Local government'. See the NHS Carers page for a list of options and help available.
  • Get others involved if you can - friends, neighbours, local pensioners' groups and so on.
  • Take care of yourself - carers are twice as likely to become ill or develop a disability themselves, according to Carers UK.
  • Remember that the basic needs of all of us are good food, warmth and clothing, prestige and the occasional luxury. Try to ensure that all these are provided. However, take care not to care too much; that would only lead to a situation where your elderly parent is prematurely dependent. You need to strike the right balance.

To find out more information about caring, including the carers' allowance, go to Carers UK. If you are not sure whether you can claim, Carers UK recommend that you get help from your local Citizens' Advice Bureau.

Caring for your elderly parents in your home can be a very good solution. However, like the other options it has its own difficulties, so you need to think about it carefully. Use the links in the box to read the rest of this Guide as one of your aids to making what is a very important decision.

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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