Blog | Angela Gifford

Be Prepared

Be Prepared - The following situations happen somewhere in the UK every day:

  • An elderly person may fall, perhaps for the second or third time in a short period of weeks and family and friends finally realise that their optimism that it was a one off has not proved to be the case.

  • A family member is admitted to hospital as a result of a stroke and the hospital staff are talking about a discharge date and the fact that care will need to be in place for a return home or perhaps a residential care home would be the answer.

  • Relatives visit an older relative and become anxious at the state of the home, ‘it used to be so clean and tidy’, unhappy at the appearance of their loved one and worried about the old food in the fridge. Asking questions; rather than feeling better as a result of the answers only enforces the idea that their loved one is not managing.

Families with their older relatives have to make decisions about how care is to be provided at a time of need. Crisis management and crisis conclusions can often be the wrong ones made in an environment of ‘this was available’ so we took it. In many cases, this bad decision may be irreversible.

It is not pessimistic to seek out information before problems occur, indeed it is a positive move to ensure, that with information, you are in the position for your elderly family member to make an appropriate choice based on knowledge.

A person falling may indicate a health problem and GP surgeries will either have or give you contact with a nurse or similar who can advise on steps to be taken to avoid a person falling in their own home whilst at the same time checking to see if it is a medical problem.

The heavier tasks involved in living in your own home may be able to be carried out by other family members, but if not, a paid cleaner can usually be sourced locally and local references obtained.

When the effort of carrying out personal care tasks or the risks associated with them are a worry a local care agency can supply a carer to help for a few hours a week. Get the information about those in the area before it is needed; make the care agency you choose be one of choice.

Entering a residential or nursing home is a major step and can be irreversible. What could be worse than living in accommodation or a situation you are unhappy with just because it was ‘convenient’ or ‘had a vacancy’.

Care homes come in different sizes, offer different facilities, services and activities, look different, engage with the outside local community or maybe not, they may be noisy places full of comings and goings or they may be quiet. Just as with home care agencies you can look up their inspection reports on the Care Quality Commission web site but nothing compares with getting a care home brochure (rather than showing an older relative the home on a laptop which they may not be able to look at later) and arranging a visit to find out for yourself how the care home might fulfil your elderly relatives requirements. It may be that the elderly person themselves would welcome this early look round.

Loneliness especially in older people leads to low morale and can facilitate a decline in health. In almost all areas of the country there will be an organisation that can help to alleviate a little of this. Services such as volunteer visitors, daily or weekly telephone chat services that are available both on a voluntary basis or via a commercial service and a local Age UK office can give you details of these and any other local resources.

Luncheon clubs, day centres all provide integration and social connection in conjunction with a hot meal. Staff present can notice any changes in a person that are worrying and can pass the information on.

Keep up to date with news about the care sector both financial and with reference to equipment and home adaptations which are available to make life easier and safer for an elderly person.

The Scout Motto ‘Be Prepared’ was introduced to show Scouts that they should always be in a state of readiness in mind and body to do their duty, and so live by their Scout Promise and the Scout Law.

For any person who has an elderly relative, it is not a bad motto to think about and act upon.

By:  Angela E Gifford
Posted:  29 Aug 2012

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