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Hans F. Hansen

40 million family carers

It is no secret that, as we age, we need a little extra help here and there.  But when you suffer from Dementia, the level of care needed can quickly increase, especially in the later stages of a diagnosis.

Dementia is ever prevalent in the UK as close to one million people suffer from it, and with two-thirds of these are still living at home, it falls to the families of those sufferers to take on the role of primary caregiver.  It has been estimated that 40 million UK citizens, both young and old, will take on some role of caregiving in their lifetime.  However, without any prior experience, it can quickly become all-consuming, with many then seeking external support from a professional.

One of our customers, Country Cousins, the UK’s leading providers of live-in care, are guest blogging for us this week and sharing their tips on how to respectfully, and carefully, tell your parents that they need help from a professionally trained, competent carer.

Finding the right time

Before any mention of care, tell them that you’d like to have a private talk together in a space that they are comfortable in.  Avoid social situations when broaching the topic as it might lead to unnecessary embarrassment.  If your parent suffers quite severely with dementia, they might react badly or negatively, and so will need time alone to process what you are saying to them.

Selling the idea of a live-in carer

A live-in carer will bring endless benefits to you both, but your parent might struggle to see this.  To ease loved ones into the idea, give a couple of examples of times they have injured themselves or forgotten to bathe for a few days and say something along the lines of “a carer would look after all of that for you, neither you nor I would ever have to worry”.

Raise the point that, should they suffer a fall whilst you are at work, it could take a while before you get to them.  A carer would be there to help straight away or even help to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Facing rejection

Your parent may be used to you looking after them and your way of doing things, not to mention that they already know and love you very much.  Hiring somebody new to take over can lead to them either feeling abandoned or that they are a burden on you.

When they voice their concerns or objections regarding a live-in carer, listen to them, don’t talk over them or shout.  Once they’re done, you can calmly and rationally respond to any concerns.

If you feel it appropriate, tell them how much you worry about them when you are not there.  There is a good chance that they already know this but have never heard you say it to them before.  Doing so can clear the haze and help them to realise how much they need a carer, not only for their own safety, but for your piece of mind too.

What to do if they are adamant about not receiving care

End the conversation by saying you understand them, only wish for the best for them and reassure them that you love them dearly.  You aren’t doing this to cause any upset or anger, but rather to look after them in the best way possible.

After some time, mention it again.  If they are still adamant on not getting a carer, seek expert advice from a social worker – an experienced, impartial resource.  Some doctors are also happy to do home visits to assess the priority of your parent receiving care.

If they have come around to the idea but don’t want to jump straight into full time live-in care, our respite care and companion care services are perfect.  On an agreed basis, one of our kind-hearted carers will slowly take over from you by visiting your parent a couple of times a week, initially providing basic care.

At Country Cousins, we offer a four-step care assessment which can be done over a simple phone call.  Firstly, we will ask your parent to tell us about their care needs and following that, we will deepen our understanding about the care needed.  We also want to learn more about them as a person, for example whether they have pets, their personal interests and any hobbies.  The third and fourth steps involve establishing whether we are the right agency to support your parent with their care needs and being perfectly matched to one of our wonderful carers.

Fears over loss of independence

As mentioned before, your parent knows you and loves you, and throughout your lives together, you’ve always helped one another.  This means they probably don’t see you as a carer, as you are doing what people always do for a family member in need.  If you aren’t living with the parent you’re caring for, you leave at the end of the day and your parent is home alone again.  They maintain their physical independence because you’re just popping round to check on them and have a catch-up whilst there.

The job of a carer is to put all their focus onto their client and their safety.  Reassure your parent it might feel out of the ordinary at first, but no carer is ever there to diminish their independence.  All Country Cousin carers support and encourage complete independence and will offer their expert care when it’s needed.

Seeking external help through a carer is not something to be ashamed of, but rather something to be embraced and encouraged if the help is needed.

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