Caring for older adults
There are currently around 3.5 million people in England providing support to elderly relatives or friends in need of care. Family carers are often the older person's main source of support.
Caring for ageing adults can put a huge strain on families, particularly those people who may also be looking after young children at the same time.
Many people caring for older adults are of working age, although one in six are older people themselves. Half of them live with the person they care for and one-third provide more than 20 hours of care per week.
There are both emotional and financial implications to try and negotiate, and if the person you look after has a degenerative condition, such as dementia, you can often feel overwhelmed by the responsibility, and unsure how best to meet the needs of that person and your own family.
Some of the issues you may face when caring for an older adult
If the person you care for can no longer live independently what will happen to them? Can they afford quality care or will you have to provide care for them in their own home?
Financial implications - will you have to sell their home (and, potentially, your inheritance) to pay for their care? Or will you have to give up your job to care for them full time? You can find out more about paying for care on the Derbyshire County Council website.
How will you juggle another responsibility on top of caring for your own family - this can be particularly difficult if you have young children who may not understand why you need to devote more time to someone else.
Perhaps you're struggling with caring for someone who wants to remain independent and active but, for physical or mental reasons, must lose some of that independence (perhaps by not driving anymore or moving out of their own home). This can cause huge stress and upset to both parties.
The person requiring care may live some distance away and you may be struggling to help them out and juggle your other responsibilities. Will you have to move the elderly person closer to you or consider moving nearer to them?
There may be conflict amongst siblings or other family members as you try to come up with an appropriate plan if the person is your parent. In some cases one person can feel they've been burdened with the main responsibility or you may feel the final decision isn't the right one for your parent but no one else sees it your way.
Just as you may be ready to embark on a new phase of life (your children have grown up or are now in full-time education, for example) you find your responsibilities have increased again, and that dream of a new career, retraining or just getting some of your life back has to be put on hold.
Speaking to people who are facing similar challenges to you can help you make sense of things. Having a network of people who you can turn to for advice and support can be very helpful.
You can use the carers directory to look for carers support groups and information services in your area. There are also details of telephone helplines and online support groups for carers on the online carers communities and advice lines information page.
You can also get a carers assessment to see if you are entitled to support services such as funding to get a break from caring, training courses and help to plan for an emergency.
Derbyshire Carers Association provide information, advice, support groups, activities and more. You can call them on tel: 01773 833833.
If you are juggling caring with working, it is a good idea to check your employment rights.
North Derbyshire Voluntary Action (NDVA) have a directory of local community groups that can support older people and their carers including luncheon clubs, social activities and condition related support groups.
Getting answers to your questions
Age UK Derby and Derbyshire offer a free information and advice service for older people and their carers. You can contact their advice hotline on tel: 01773 768240. They also offer other services for older people including befriending, housing support and footcare.
The NHS website has advice about some of these questions on their caring for older relatives page.
Citizens Advice also have information about the help and support available in the looking after people section of their website.
Mobility - moving and handling training
Many older people have difficulties with mobility. Derbyshire County Council Adult Care's moving and handling team provide free training for carers. You can learn safe techniques to prevent injury. They also provide the opportunity for carers and the people they care for to 'try out' new pieces of equipment. The moving and handling team is based at The Hub in South Normanton, but offer training at other venues around the county. Please call Tel: 01629 531492 for further information.
Derbyshire Carers Association may also be able to provide moving and handling and First Aid training for carers. Contact them on tel: 01773 833833 for further information.
Falls prevention and foot care
Age UK run Strictly No Falling classes across Derbyshire. The gentle exercise classes help people improve their balance and strength which are considered two of the biggest factors in reducing the risk of falls. They also offer the Tootsies Foot Care service for people over 50.
Other helpful websites
- Age UK - home and care
- Age UK - Derby and Derbyshire
- Independent Age - support for carers
- Independent Age - how to stay connected in older age
- Derbyshire County Council - equipment, adaptations and telecare
- Ask SARA - equipment and aids
- NHS website - moving and handling
- NHS - Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing