Looking out for your elderly relatives at Christmas
18 December 2019
Catching up with elderly relatives over Christmas
Whether it’s mum and dad or a great aunt or uncle, many of us will be seeing elderly relatives at some point over the festive season whom we don’t see regularly the rest of the year. And for those of us who live near our elderly relatives and see them more regularly, we may see more of them than during other months.
“If you don’t see your elderly relatives regularly, or only for short periods, coming together for an extended period means you can get to see how they really are, rather than how they bear up for a couple of hours – and it can be quite an eyeopener,” says Debbie Harris of Autumna, who help self-funding families find care.
“We often get a flurry of enquiries in the new year from people who say ‘I was a bit shocked when mum came to stay with us at Christmas – we thought she was doing fine, but it’s clear she needs some help now’. Sometimes seeing someone after a while can make these changes more obvious than when you see them every day,” she adds.
How do you know if your elderly relative could benefit from help?
There are some key signs to look out for: “Being slower on their feet or finding it difficult to get out of a chair unaided are easy signs they are finding things more physically challenging,” explains Debbie. “But you need to keep an eye out for less obvious indicators as well, such as confusion or a limited attention span, depression or lethargy, anxiety or unusual behaviour – doing things that are out of character or a changed sense of humour can be signs of decline.”
It’s also worthwhile paying attention to the things they bring with them: “If their clothes are grubby it could be an indication that they aren’t looking after themselves,” cautions Debbie.
What to do if you think your elderly relative may need help
Depending upon the signs your loved one is displaying, you may want to get them an appointment with their doctor; it may be helpful if you or someone else they trust can go with them.
You may also want to arrange for some assistance to help them enjoy the best possible quality of life while enabling them to continue to live independently. Home care companies offer help with everything from everyday tasks, such as getting up, washing and preparing meals, through to companionship, trips out or help with the shopping. You can read the official assessments and rankings of local home care companies in your area through the Care Quality Commission.
Autumna offer a free care line, which is a great first port of call to find out what your next steps should be – and to help you discuss your relative’s changing needs with them. You can call them on 01892 335 330.
Paying for home care
Depending on your relative’s needs and their financial circumstances, their local authority may fund some care for them. However, your preferred care provider may not accept local authority funded clients, or the local authority may not be willing to pay for as much care as you and your relative think they need, meaning your relative is likely to have to meet the costs of some or all of their care.
If paying for care is going to put a strain on your relative’s finances, equity release could be a solution to help them pay for the support they need to enjoy the best possible quality of life while remaining in their own home. Our equity release experts are happy to talk you through the options, as well as advising on any implications that releasing equity may have on their entitlement to state benefits, so you can help them decide on how they want to finance their care.
“Equity release can be used to pay for both home care and nursing fees, meaning your relative can stay in their own home for longer,” explains Jan Johnson, founder of 55+ Equity Release. “Our advisers offer an initial no-obligation meeting to review their circumstances to help them – and you – decide whether equity release might be an appropriate solution.”
‘Tis the season to be jolly – but it’s also the season to keep an eye out for our elderly relatives and make sure they are enjoying the best possible quality of life.