ElWell is a local service here to help people live the life they want as they get older and support their families. They make home visits across Oxfordshire and provide tailored help for mobility, balance, overcoming loneliness, managing memory loss, making home adaptations and nutrition.
We’re the sandwich generation – and we don’t mean we’re fans of Pret A Manger! Instead, this term explains the rise in people looking after their kids and also helping to care for their parents as they get older. There are currently an estimated 2.4 million people in the UK doing just this, and with life expectancy increasing (in Oxfordshire and across the UK, the 65 and over age group is growing at the fastest rate), this is set to go up.Being ‘sandwiched’ can be a stressful situation – and how do you know if your parents really need help? Here are five tips to help you understand your parent’s situation and plan for the future.
It’s good to talk: Talking about getting older can be a hard chat to have with your parents, but it’s an important one. Have they noticed any changes that are causing them concern? How do they see their golden years playing out? Does this differ from your views? Don’t shy away from discussing finances too. You may only be eligible for adult social care funding if your parent’s capital (including their home) is less than £23,250 per person. Getting on the same page now could save some difficult decisions down the line.
Observe their environment: This can be a real giveaway as to how they’re coping, and be signs that they need more support. It could be their appearance (are their outfits matching or clothes being done up properly?) or within their house e.g. are they able to cook a meal or do they rely on ready meals? It may be they’re keen gardeners but the garden is starting to look overgrown because they’re unable to bend down or grip the tools anymore. Whether the cause is physical or memory related, catching it early can help you to help them.
Focus on their interests: Loneliness and isolation is a growing problem with older adults. As they age, they may not feel able to take part in some of the social activities they used to, or not want to get involved with activities they class as “elderly” (it’s not unusual for people to feel too young to go to lunch clubs!). Instead, help them look for new opportunities that match their interests. Could they volunteer at the local museum? Take an art course? Or if exercise is their thing, there are some great classes designed around older people.
On the road: Whilst they may see driving as key to their independence, it’s important to understand if it’s safe for them to do so. Go for an eye test and get the opinion of an expert – tests are free if you’re over 60.
Falling over: Around 1 in 3 adults over 65 who live at home will fall over at least once a year. As well as the physical impact, this can lead to them becoming scared of falling again and losing their confidence. If they have fallen over, try and understand why (e.g. did they trip over something or was it because they felt dizzy?). Would rails at home or a mobility aid help them (and you!) feel more secure?
Finally, caring for others can be exhausting, so don’t forget to look after yourself too. Try and share the load, literally and metaphorically. Do you have siblings who can help your parents too? Anyone close who you can chat through your options and real feelings? We’ve written a blog on six ways that carers can look after themselves, check it out.