10 November 2022

How to care for the elderly at home

7 min read

Well, the answer isn’t as simple as we think, whether it be at home, a short-term respite stay, or even a longer-term solution in an aged care residence. But one thing is clear, there are emotional, physical, and financial demands involved in all three options. Here, we will be exploring caring for your elderly relative at home, the real cost to you, what’s involved and what is available if you need a break.

It can be a very rewarding role being a carer and can enrich your relationship with the person you are caring for. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you have helped someone who needs you and improving the quality of life of someone you care about. However, it can also be intensely emotional and exhausting. Sometimes you might feel worried or anxious, perhaps about your friend or relative's health, or about money or other issues in your life affected by your caring role.

Is it better to be cared for at home?

Studies have shown that when older people become unwell, being in their home amongst their own things (and people) can make them feel more comfortable and content and they tend to heal more quickly. Carers can provide the ideal amount of care, changing dressings, giving medication, and taking care of their every need. However, caregiving can be very stressful due to the emotional and physical strain, especially if it needs to be a long-term arrangement.

Caregivers report much higher levels of stress than people who are not caregivers. Many caregivers are providing help or are "on call" almost all day. Sometimes, this means there is little time for work or other family members or friends.

People who experience caregiver stress can be vulnerable to changes in their own health. Risk factors for caregiver stress include:

• Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
• Feeling tired often
• Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
• Gaining or losing weight
• Becoming easily irritated or angry
• Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
• Feeling sad
• Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
• Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

When choosing to look after your loved one at home, there are several factors to consider, and these include (but are not limited too)

1. Finding out what equipment or home changes may be required. Some homes may need permanent adjustments made, or furniture rearranged to make things more accessible.
2. Alarms and monitors may need to be purchased for safety and emergencies in regard to falls, giving you peace of mind.
3. Explore payments you may be entitled to. Go to Centrelink, NDIS etc.
4. The person you are caring for may need extra help, besides yourself, from preparing meals, to handymen etc.
5. You will need an emergency care plan. One that contains all the most important details, medication lists, health care professionals’ names etc.
6. Learn how to lift and move your loved one safely. Preventing injuries to yourself is paramount.
7. Sometimes you may also need to work on how to manage challenging behaviours as time progresses.
8. You will need to make legal arrangements such as Advance Directives, Care Plans, appoint a Guardian, Power of Attorney, and write a Will.
9. If the person lives with you, you will sometimes need a break. Respite care means someone else looks after the person you care for whilst you have a well-deserved break. We are able to arrange that for you at Estia Health.

The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one. To help manage caregiver stress, one of the ways is learning that you must also take care of yourself. Because if you don’t you won’t be able to care for anyone else. The first and most important way is to accept help, this can lead to guilty feelings sometimes, but understanding that no one is the ‘perfect’ caregiver, and that you are simply doing your best is ok. You are making the best decisions for yourself and your own family. And with nearly 60% of caregivers working outside of the home, full time caregiving is not always possible.

If you're like many caregivers, you have a hard time asking for help. Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to feeling isolated, frustrated, and even depressed.

It may be hard to imagine leaving your loved one in someone else's care but taking a break can be one of the best things you do for yourself — as well as the person you're caring for. At Estia Health we provide short, emergency or long-term respite for your loved one. Respite care at one of our homes provides the opportunity to have your loved one cared for in a safe and supportive environment.

When your loved one comes and stays at one of our homes, you’ll have peace of mind, that they are being cared for by an experienced and compassionate team in a safe and supportive environment. With experienced clinicians, carers, hospitality teams – all looking after the social, clinical and overall wellbeing of your loved one.

Please read here for further information on our respite care, long term care and our homes