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Avoiding a crisis – Care advice and support for families
09 January 2020
In her latest blog for us, Beth Britton provides tips and advice for ways family members concerned about a loved one’s health can support them.
One of the areas of care and support that I am most passionate about is helping families to avoid a crisis when the lives of older or disabled relatives take an unexpected turn for the worst. My reason is simple; we were once embroiled in a crisis with my dad who, having gone ten years without a diagnosis of dementia, collapsed at home from a stroke and was rushed to hospital. He lived for another nine years following his diagnosis of vascular dementia, but was never able to return home.
Whilst thinking about ‘worst case’ scenarios is something none of us want to do, planning how best to support ageing, ill or infirm relatives before a crisis occurs is infinitely better than the alternative. In the aftermath of the festive season – when many families have spent time together for perhaps the first time in a while – I often get emails asking for advice, usually because family members are concerned that their loved one might be developing dementia.
To help, here are my top five tips if you’re worried about a loved one’s health or ability to cope as they get older:
- The first step is always to try and find out what is causing any new health problems that you’ve noticed. Pronounced memory difficulties may have left you worrying that your loved one is developing a type of dementia, while a persistent tremor might mean you’re worrying about Parkinson’s. Supporting your loved one to see their GP is the only way to deal with such fears, reassuring your loved one that whatever the outcome you will be there for them.
- To help keep your loved one safe and well, think about whether their home could benefit from some modifications. It could be anything from adding grab rails and non-slip mats in the bathroom, to a personal alarm to alert family or the emergency services if your loved one is unwell or has a fall. Environmental modifications are particularly important for a person who is living with dementia – some tips on what a dementia-friendly environment looks like are available from the University of Stirling Dementia Centre, and products to provide support are available from Live Better With.
- Start to explore the options for care and support. Knowing your loved one’s preferences for care, what services are available within their community, and analysing their financial situation will help to prepare you both so that choices can be made that are most closely aligned with what is actually wanted. This information from the NHS will help to inform your discussions, and you can find out what Promedica24 offer here.
- It’s tempting to only consider professional care when the need for it becomes more severe, but having some low-level support when a loved one is still able to manage well can help to prolong their independence and delay the progression of more complex or debilitating symptoms. One of the most popular options for this amongst Promedica24’s clients is companion care which offers live-in home care support and, crucially, the friendship that can help to reduce loneliness.
- Finally, having a Lasting Power of Attorney is important for everyone, but the necessity for this often only becomes clear when it’s too late. A person needs to have capacity in order to make and register a Lasting Power of Attorney, and if your loved one has already lost capacity you may need to apply to the Court of Protection, which is a more complex, expensive and time-consuming process. Encourage parents and grandparents with mental capacity to make and register a Lasting Power of Attorney, and consider completing one yourself to inspire older relatives to do likewise.
About the author:
Beth Britton is an award-winning content creator, consultant, trainer, mentor, campaigner and speaker who is an expert in ageing, health and social care https://www.bethbritton.com.
To find out more about Promedica24’s live-in care, please call 0800 086 8686 or email email@example.com