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Discussing care needs with elderly parents

Posted on 20/08/2014

It’s hard to think about our parents ageing, especially when it comes to considering what kind of care and/or support they might need as they get older.

A recent report by Care UK, looking at the results of a study of 2,000 participants with parents over the age of 60, found that only 28% of people would have their parents live with them if they had full-time care needs. In fact, although two thirds of respondents worry about their parents’ future needs, 66% haven’t discussed the issue with their parents and just 7% have any plans in place. This is a worrying state of affairs and sadly ageing is something that is unavoidable, so it pays to consider the future before it’s too late.

It’s a difficult conversation to have, but as your parents get older, it is important to discuss their wishes when it comes to care and support as they age. The earlier that you have this talk, the better, as it gives you and your parents time to prepare for the future, both financially and mentally.

Part of the problem is that not everyone is aware of the many care and support options that exist. It’s not uncommon to hear people say that they think residential care is the only option. There are two key problems here: first, there are plenty of other options out there that may suit your parents better and cost less; and second, once someone is put into residential care, it is unlikely that they will ever come out again.

Before it gets to this point, it pays to sit down with your parents and talk to them frankly about their wishes. You can have an informal conversation and take notes that you can refer to in the future. You might find it useful to use our Care Needs Helper, which lists all of the questions that you need to ask, and note down your parents’ responses.

Try our online Care Needs Helper here
Get a printable version of our Care Needs Helper here

Once you have discussed all of the key areas in which you think your parents might need additional help, you can come up with a Care Plan, which outlines the kind of care and support your parents would prefer in different situations. This can be amended as time goes on and things change, but it gives you a good starting point.

Things to ask include:

  • Would you prefer home care or residential care?
  • Do you want to stay at home as long as possible?
  • Would you want a family member to provide your care?
  • Would you be happy with a paid carer coming in to your home every day?
  • Would you want to see the same carer every day, or would you be happy with a group of carers?
  • Would you consider employing your own carer directly, or would you prefer to go through an agency?

Knowing the answers to these kinds of questions gives you a place to begin researching care and support options.

Read all about the different care and support options available here

In most cases, if your parents would prefer to receive home care, then there is no reason why they can’t. You will find that hiring or contracting with a paid carer is more cost-effective than residential care. Also, being in familiar surroundings and having continuing independence can help your parents to stay fitter, healthier and more capable for a lot longer.

Advice on hiring a paid carer to provide home care

Of course, cost is a big concern, especially when an article in Moneywise suggests that a room in a UK care home can cost nearly £29,000 a year on average. It pays to think about how these costs are going to be met well in advance. There are funding options with local authorities, though these won’t be an option until your parent’s care needs meet certain requirements. Meeting with an independent financial advisor can be worthwhile, as they can talk through all of your options for paying for care in the future and it will be one less thing to worry about when the time comes.

Find out more about getting care funding  

Read about other funding solutions

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