Looking after our parents creeps up on us. In today’s world, we all have busy lives whether it is running our families, having careers or, often, a combination of the two. Looking after our parents is the extra role we add onto our already busy lives, totally unaware of the enormity of the task to come.
It is estimated that at any one time, there are over 2 million people in the UK looking after elderly relatives – a number which is only going to grow. The vast majority of us are ill prepared for the role. This is not surprising in a society that shies away from old age and death, but it does need to change. Early recognition and a good understanding of what lies ahead is essential. Planning in the early stages is the key to making the whole process more manageable.
The word ‘carer’ is confusing, since it covers both professional carers and unpaid carers. By not differentiating between the two, the early stages of looking after the elderly are often not recognised. The concentration tends to be on what is commonly known as ‘the heavy end’, the stage when professional carers are required. To understand the task facing unpaid carers, it is important to differentiate.
At Looking After Mum and Dad we call unpaid carers ’caregivers’, leaving the word ‘carer’ to apply to professional carers. The Hayden 5 Stages of caring identifies the different roles caregivers undertake over the time they look after the elderly. They are summarised as follows:-
|STAGE||THE ROLE||IDENTIFYING FEATURES|
|1. Keeping an Eye On||Observer||Ringing more frequently.
Seeing them once a week
|2. Looking Out For||Helper||Visiting them at home to ensure they are coping.
Taking them to appointments (not necessarily
going in with them).
Taking meals or cooking for them.
|3. Looking After||Manager||Keeping independence by making sure all their needs are met: -
financial, health, legal, food, home environment
|4. Caring||Supporter or full time carer||No longer independent
Care home/nursing home/your home/live in carer
in their home
|5. After Care||Organiser|
|Organising the funeral
Winding up the estate.
Filling the void/Discovering possibilities.
It may be helpful to list all the things you do for your parents and this will give you a good steer as to which stage you have reached. There is a more detailed description of each of the stages-just click on the links below:-
STAGE 1: ‘KEEPING AN EYE ON’
STAGE 2: ‘LOOKING OUT FOR’
STAGE 3: ‘LOOKING AFTER’
STAGE 4: ‘CARING’
STAGE 5: ’AFTER CARE’