Don’t Do it Alone

Outside Assistance for Carers

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Introduction

Caring for a loved one is a noble act, but in time it can feel like a millstone around your neck and create stress within your life. To prevent this my personal advice is not to take on the task of caring alone and if you do, always have some kind of support in place as a backup because you need your own life as well. Some considerations to have to hand are the types of help you can turn to, from family to paid for services with last consideration been whether a specialised facility would be better.

So you’ve made the decision to care for a loved one. The next question is where do you do the caring? Do you move them in to a spare room in your house or do you move in with them? This all depends on whether a) Do you have a family? and b) which is the cheapest course of action? Once that decision is made then you can look at how you are going to care for them. Now you know where the caring will be done, next stage is what assistance you will have at hand. If need be having a social worker, you can contact is another option. Below is my short list of assistance options.

List of Assistance options

1.Extended Family

Family members are the cheapest, but not always the most reliable assistance, so if you plan on sharing the load with extended family, my advice choose wisely. You can still take on the hardest of tasks yourself, just ask family or even very close friends to help by sitting with your loved one while you do various tasks like cooking, cleaning, shopping or even just to give you an hour or two to do something for you, like a hobby or exercise or maybe just time to relax. Use family or friends as a stop gap to sit with your loved one, read to them or simply talk to them to keep their memories active. Someone they know other than you will cut down on the anxiety felt.

2.Daycare

Alongside extended family you could also set up a daycare option where your loved one goes to a senior centre, community centre or a residential home once or twice a week for a few hours giving you both an escape from the repetitive nature, your life will inevitably take. This can be somewhere that is run and over seen by experienced carers with a friendly atmosphere where your loved one will be safe and can join with other seniors in games, singing, crafts and dancing depending on your their capabilities. When choosing a daycare take in to account how your loved one will get to and from the facility. If they pick up and drop off all the better, but one drawback to this is it is a time constraint on you having to be available when they pick up and drop off, again this is dependent on the capability of your loved one. This is the cheapest option of assistance.

3.Rest Bite Care

Rest bite care is simply what it says. It is a couple of days, a week or a fortnight where your loved one goes in to a residential home to give you both some rest from each other. This can be used, so you can go on holiday, decorate or simply recharge your own battery with a staycation. If you are caring on your own without any outside support rest bite can be a necessity for your peace of mind and your mental wellbeing as well as a way for your loved one to meet new people outside of the home and their family or friends. A rest bite plan could also be in place in case of an emergency where you fall ill or need medical attention. Having a plan in place is always a responsible undertaking.

4.Part-time Carers

So, it’s time to get more help within the home. The first step is to get a care firm to supply additional help one or two times a week to help with the hygiene and general wellbeing of your loved one. This can either be one person or two people who are specially trained to be carers and will take over the bathing, dressing and undressing aspects of the daily routine as your loved one mobility starts to decline. This also can help you step back and relax from the stress of your caring role letting someone else burden the manual side of the role you have undertaken to do. This can be increased as required dependant on you and your finances. My advice is unless you are getting government assistance check each firm out thoroughly before engaging their services because they can be expensive. The drawback to involving carers in your life is they need access to all aspects of your home, so be prepared for interference you may not wish for, but the advantage of outside carers is they may see something you have missed with your loved ones symptoms and can advise on who you need to speak to. Again money can be a factor on how often you get assistance.

5.Full-time Carers

As with part-time carers this is one or two strangers taking over every aspect of your loved ones care needs, just it is in your home rather than a care facility. Two people will visit you to help get your loved one up and ready on a morning, then assist with medication and feeding. They can if necessary also call in to help feed your loved one at midday and early evening before returning later on to help put your loved one to bed. If your loved one has developed an incontinence issue full-time carers will call in at set times to change and clean your loved one. This type of care is very intrusive and even though you no longer do the work, it can be very time consuming as you need to be at home when they call, unless you trust them enough to be left unsupervised. This could be at the most four times a day, seven days a week. When you reach this stage you need to ask yourself the question, would a care facility be better option? If the answer is no then step back and let the specialists do their job.

6.Palliative Care Nurses

This is the last resort of care which tells you the end is rearing it’s ugly head. Nurses come in to help make the last days as comfortable as possible with prescribed drugs been professionally monitored, but carers are still required to assist with the hour to hour needs and be a friendly face during their final days. These people will come in to your life until they are no longer required and have a big impact on how your loved ones see out there final days on this earth. Palliative care will not only help your loved one, but will aid you in your realisation of how fragile life really is and may even give you the courage when it is time to say goodbye.

Conclusion

Whichever type of assistance you inevitably choose, money will always be a factor on the style of care you get. I can’t speak for other countries, but here in the UK before you invest hard earned savings or pension money in the pit that is social care check out whether you are entitled to government assistance in the outlay costs. Find out if your loved one is entitled to Attendance Allowance which is to help those with recognised disabilities get extra help. Another way to find out if your loved one is eligible for extra financial help is to have a social worker go through a finance eligibility checklist with you. This is a very financial intrusive check, but could either pay for all or part of your loved one caring requirements in the home. Also it is a foot in to finding out if they qualify for loan equipment from the NHS likes of specialised beds, bath lifts, etc. without you having to purchase them.

The above list is merely my thoughts on what options I came across while caring for my father who had dementia. I did at some point over the seven years I cared for him use one or more of the afore mentioned options and your local GP may be able to put you in touch with the relevant companies of organisations that can help with outside assistance as and when you need it.

Disclaimer All the above information is based on my experience in the United Kingdom, for other countries defer to your local authorities or insurance provider.

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T.J. Hübner

T.J. Hübner

Poet, Author, Writer and Ex-Caregiver — Dementia and Caregiver advocate. Lone wolf who has found his voice.