Seeing our loved ones (grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, siblings) become more and more dependent due to advanced age or a debilitating illness can be frightening, but we have to face up to our fears. It’s at this time of life that our relatives need us to be strong more than ever and in providing care, we can ensure that their quality of life is not compromised.
However, becoming a carer, whether full or part time, isn’t easy and it’s important you know how to provide assistance that is not only beneficial to your relative, but also doesn’t burn you out. Below are 3 ways you can help your loved ones when they need assistance in and around the home.
Help Them Maintain Their Independence
Becoming more dependent isn’t just scary for us, it’s scary for our loved ones, too. The prospect of having to receive full time nursing care can be terrifying and many would prefer to be cared for in their own homes (the homes they have lived in for years) or would prefer to live with relatives to maintain familiarity.
Unless relatives are severely disabled, either physically or psychologically, it’s important not to do everything for them. It’s tempting, but if you really want to help, the best thing you can do is help them retain their independence.
For example, rather than helping your relative upstairs to bed, look into installing a stairlift which help them move around the house by themselves. If you wish to move your relative into your home which isn’t very accessible, you can even get an outdoor stairlift to help make your home easier to reach from the pathway.
Know What You’re Entitled To
Perhaps one of the hardest aspects of becoming a carer to a relative is the financial implications. However, there is plenty of financial assistance out there if you know where to look.
For example, if you care for a relative full time, you may be entitled to claim up to £59.75 per week in Carer’s Allowance, or if you’re a part time carer, you may be entitled to Carer’s Credit in the form of reduce National Insurance contributions.
You may also be eligible for discounts on assisted living aids depending on the criteria set by your local council. Equipment providers will be able to provide information relating to grants and it may also be worth chatting to charities such as Age Concern who have relationships with community social workers.
Take a Break
You may think that taking a break is one of the worst things you can do for your relative. They rely on you day in, day out and taking a break is selfish, right? No. Not at all. In fact, taking a short break is good for both of you.
Although you may love them unconditionally, caring is hard work and if you’re tired and stressed, you’re going to find things even more challenging which can really affect both you and your loved one.
Respite care, either in the home or in a hospital environment, is available which gives carers a chance to unwind for a few days. Research has found that upon return, relatives appear more high functioning which is attributed to a more relaxed, laid back attitude of the carer.
To care for your loved one effectively, don’t be tempted to take over their life. A good carer isn’t one who does everything or is there all the time, a good carer is one who looks after both themselves and their families, is happy and healthy and helps their loved one live their life to the fullest in spite of whatever condition or illness may be trying to slow them down.