Musings

Stepping in before an ageing parent needs advanced care

by Lindsey Nathan on 27 April 2018 15:43pm : 1750

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ageing parents looking out

It’s hard for any of us to admit that we need help sometimes, irrespective of how old we are. I know from my own experience as a mum, juggling work, running a home and caring for two young children, there are times when I could really do with an extra pair of hands and somebody to talk to when my husband works long hours too.

We all have periods in our lives when life is a bit more challenging, times when a friendly face and somebody to share the load with is hugely welcome. Growing older can be one of those times, as day-to-day tasks become a bit trickier and when there may be fewer opportunities to get out and interact with people.  

Small stuff matters 

Time and time again we hear from older people looking for a helping hand that say it’s the ‘small everyday things’ that make a big difference to their lives, such as having someone there to help unpack the shopping and to hold a conversation with over lunch.  

The problem is that in my experience of working in the care industry for almost a decade now, people almost never reach out and seek support until they are at crisis point. At that stage, sadly, it can be difficult to regain their independence. 

Frustratingly, we’ve seen so many people deteriorate unnecessarily because they didn’t ask for a little help earlier on. We want to change this, so that older people can remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible and, while it may sound a contradiction in terms, having a Home Helper can enable them to do this. The key is to introduce support before advanced care is needed.

My Grandma Julia, featured on our website, is a perfect example of a fiercely independent older person who was adamant that she didn’t need any help at home. Careful, sensitive persuasion from my mum, her daughter, showed her otherwise and Grandma was amongst the very first people registered on our website to connect with a local Home Helper. 

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“My world is now bigger”

In Grandma’s own words, her Home Helper Hannah is an ‘absolute blessing’ and she wouldn’t be without her now. That’s because Julia has realised that her world has got bigger with Hannah in it; she can enjoy more time in the garden having a helping hand with the weeding (a job she finds difficult to do now), more time out of the house with Hannah by her side, more time enjoying conversation and less time worrying about the paperwork she can’t quite read as Hannah helps her with that too. 

Grandma is lucky enough to have a loving family around her and we all pop in regularly, but that didn’t stop her from feeling lonely. She didn’t want to ‘trouble’ any of us, saying she was aware of our busy lives. In that way, Hannah is a blessing to the whole family, as she can be there when we can’t and as it’s a paid arrangement Grandma has no reservations in asking Hannah to come over whenever she needs her. As a very proud lady Grandma didn’t want to be seen to be taking ‘charity’. 

Renewed interest in life 

Having a Home Helper for Grandma has been a breakthrough for our family and we believe that it’s improved Grandma’s quality of life, increased her confidence and extended her independence. As Grandma ages and needs more help, she can easily increase Hannah’s hours or even have two Home Helpers alternating. 

The flexibility that Close to Hand offers has proved invaluable to our family and we’ve been able to successfully introduce the concept of support at home to Grandma without her feeling that she was losing her independence, quite the opposite in fact we’ve noticed her renewed interest in life. 

Broaching the subject of care with an older relative is never easy, but Close to Hand is here to offer another option. In our experience it is almost always better for family members to step in and seek support for an elderly relative before they need advanced care, when choices can be severely limited.

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