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Stress and Looking After an Elderly Relative

After a lifetime of work, our old age can be a time of personal fulfilment and contentment.

However, as our population continues to live longer, so it becomes more common for families to worry about how they will look after their elderly parents, and for older people themselves to worry about how they will be able to cope, so as not ‘be a burden’ to their children.

Such stresses and concerns are familiar to many of us, but living a long life need not be something to fear, even with the added challenges of chronic conditions and reduced physical ability.

What is needed is good communication and understanding between all involved, and getting good quality information on the options available, including benefits and financial advice, health, housing and care options. There are many charities working with elderly people such as Age UK and they are good sources of knowledgeable experience and support.

One of the first options people often consider is of the family moving in together, whether it’s the older person moving in with their children or the other way round. This may be a good solution for those families who have the space and good relationships, but won’t suit everyone.

It can change family dynamics as all of a sudden the parent is now perceived as being cared for by the children. The older person will often have worries and fears about losing their independence and even a sense of their own identity. If their needs involve intimate personal care, then this is often something families can find very stressful if they try to look after everything themselves.

But for older people who may not be able to live completely independently any more, but do not necessarily need 24hour care such as in a traditional nursing home, there are a variety of supported living options available from home care visiting services to supported housing schemes.

Good quality supported housing schemes, such as those run by ExtraCare Charitable Trust in the north of the UK, take a holistic approach to a residents care needs. The ideal is to enable residents to maintain their independence as far as possible and to tailor any support required to their individual needs.

Housing schemes like these can cater for a range of personal and health care needs from those with very few requirements to those living with dementia. As well as being in a safe and secure home of their own, residents can have access to a full range of facilities to maximise their wellbeing, including and health, leisure and wellbeing services and activities such as gardening, music, book clubs or Tai Chi.

So through finding out about the options available in your local area, a lot of the stress and worry about growing older can be alleviated. Old age can be looked toward with more confidence and a sense of security for all those involved.

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