Caring for your children is one thing but elderly parents need care and attention too

Caring for your children is a pleasure and a challenge, and just when you think you know what you’re doing, you reach an age where your parents need more care and attention too.
Those of us who are having children now are among a group of people called the Sandwich Generation – we are caring for two groups of people at the same time, and most of us are holding down jobs at the same time.

Warwick Castle with the grandparents

Caring for children follows a hierarchy, but caring for parents turns that hierarchy upside down. Suddenly you’re taking care of the person who used to change your nappy and you may be watching someone you have looked up to all your life become a very different person.

The level of care your parent needs will vary as you go about your day to day life. It may be that they are no longer confident driving and need a lift (reminiscent of your teenage years) or they may need help keeping their medicines straight. At the other end of the spectrum there are those who need full time care, be it in your home or in a care home.

The Emotional Reality

Regardless of the level of care they need, most people suffer emotional stress when they realise their parent is ageing, and not always gracefully. It’s not easy to be the one to take away the keys or to realize that they haven’t eaten a proper meal since you saw them last and, it’s even more difficult to deal with the fact that they may stop remembering who you are. It’s important to take a step back and not take it personally. Know that the person they were loves you for what you are doing; it’s the person they are becoming that doesn’t understand. Remember when you were a teenager and they had to come down hard on you for something – eventually even if it was 20 years later, when you were a different person – you started to understand their rationale!

It’s important for you to have your own support network at this time, whether it’s your spouse, a friend, or other relatives. Sometimes, knowing you are not alone and that you have someone to talk to or that someone is there to give you a hug can be the difference between making it work and throwing your hands up in defeat.

Choosing care

emotional old couple dancing grandparents
When things get beyond the point of counting pills and helping with the gardening, there is a big decision to make. What kind of care does your loved one need and how are you going to provide it? For some people, having their parents move in with them and becoming full time carers is a natural step, for others this is not even a possibility due to space, other family commitments or the level of care needed.

In some instances, the home they are living in needs a few adjustments but with a stair lift, or special railing, keeping their independence is a real possibility. In some of these instances, hiring someone to come and look in on your parent takes some of the weight off your shoulders and your parent still feels like they have a life of their own.

When things get to the point of choosing a care home, you really want to look into your options. Take a look at what is available in their local area and your own, think about who is going to have to commute to visit, and how feasible the location is. Use websites like the to learn about other people’s experiences with the care homes you are considering. The quotes on a marketing brochure tell you how the home wants to be seen – the quotes on Good Care Guide tell you how the families of other tenants felt.

Paying For Care

There has been much public debate about how as a country we are going to pay for care in the future. Until a solution is reached, the cost and responsibility for care will increasingly fall on older people and their families.

Preparing for our futures we rarely factor in the funds needed to care for an elderly relative. The important thing is to plan ahead. Too often a parent falls ill before you’ve discussed what their finances are like and what care options they can consider.

Regardless of available funds or where you currently live, you are entitled to a free assessment of your parent’s needs by the local authority. Local authorities can also advise about local care providers who can meet your needs.

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