I hate to see items on the news about elderly people being abused at the hands of those charged with their care. I know there are so many facets to these stories but the end result is still horrifying. We will all be old one day and who knows how old age will change us? We might be physically fit but mentally unstable or be very much aware but with failing bodies. Whatever fate throws our way, most of us will have to rely on someone in our later years.
As I went through my forties I was determined that I would not care for elderly parents. The whole thought of it filled me with horror. But we change. I watched my father go through the system, paying his way (and in the process using up over £200 000 of his hard earned assets) and watching the gradual decline in the facilities and attention he was given day-by-day. I’ve blogged about this before so won’t repeat myself. Eventually, as he lost weight and became more frail, we took the huge decision to pool resources with him, buy a bigger house and move him in with us. It was an easier decision for me than my husband. I think it is harder to accept an in-law under your roof whereas there is a sort of sense of ‘duty’ in looking after your own parent.
Naturally, my dad was delighted to live in a real home with family popping in and out all the time, a cat and a dog keeping him company throughout the day, help with personal care and food tailored to his personal taste. As his full-time carer my concerns about the role have been pretty much unfounded. There have been moments of course, but generally things have gone quite well. Probably the hardest part is the feeling of being tied down, checking the clock for mealtimes, not being able to accept invitations from friends and structuring the day around someone else’s needs. There is plenty of support out there if you ask for it and we are lucky that dad is financially secure should we need to buy in some care as his health deteriorates.
We need to think about a holiday but this throws up challenges and lots of ‘what ifs?’ I know it is only right that we have a break but I do worry about what sort of care he will receive while we are away. In my experience, most carers in homes are really good -especially considering the miserable wages they receive. But it is also my feeling that as hard as they work, many homes do not have enough staff to see to people’s needs and that elderly people often wait a long time for their press of the bell to be answered.
Wherever we choose for dad while we’re away, it has an awful feeling of ‘putting granddad in the kennels’.