Starting out

Starting your journey

You’ve reached the point where you think a parent, relative, or even a close friend needs support – where do you start and what really matters?

There may be many reasons you find yourself looking for care and support for a relative and it’s not unusual if it feels like a difficult and emotional time. The care and support system is not always the easiest to find your way around, especially if it’s at a time of crisis. There are many considerations including deciding if the time is right, broaching the subject, being open and talking with your relative and wider family members.

Understanding their needs

Let’s assume you have overcome any initial resistance to considering looking for help and support for a relative. Then you need to address some fundamental questions, such as how much, or how little help is needed, who can provide it, and who can help you to find the range of options. Making decisions that could lead to giving up the family home, loaded as it is with happy memories, can be a stressful and anxious time for everyone involved. It is more likely that you will be able to make good decisions if have sufficient information in a form that you can make sense of and act on.

Knowing what’s available is only part of the picture, you also need to have an objective care assessment of the breadth and depth of your relative’s needs which will help with care planning whether they are living at home or have had a hospital admission.

Dealing with family pressures

Deciding how to help an ageing relative is a daunting task. Their needs are first and foremost, but it is often difficult to make an honest assessment of how the ageing process is affecting their health and ability to maintain their independence safely.

Declining health and mobility are difficult to come to terms with; they affect our sense of who we are, challenging our identity in a process that is progressive and irreversible. Loved ones can be resistant to change, as can other family members but you can balance these often opposing opinions and find a way to come to an agreement.