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How to Care for Elderly Couples

When a couple has lived together for many years, they usually want to stay together, but this can be difficult if one of them needs specialised elderly care. Often, the person who is healthier takes on the role of caregiver for the other, but as both grow older, more help may be needed. With a dementia diagnosis, it might seem like the only option is that one member of a couple has to go into a care home. But there are now various alternative ways of ensuring that your elderly parents receive the support they need while also being able to continue living together.

Care homes

Care homes and nursing homes can offer elderly care, including Alzheimer’s care, but although married couples should be able to stay together, the placement is unlikely to be suitable for both people unless they have the same care needs. It can be distressing for one partner to go into a care home while the other remains at home, but this does happen quite frequently.

If both your mother and father do go into a care home, they will probably have to have separate single rooms, although some homes may be able to be flexible and let them both sleep in one room and use the second as a sitting room. Sometimes, however, couples with different needs will be cared for in different areas of the home, due to practical limitations for the care staff.

A husband and wife used to independent living in their own home can find that they lose a lot of their privacy and independence when they move into a care home and have to come to terms with living with other people. The cost of funding two places in a care home can also work out to be very expensive, too.

Home care

In-home care services can help to support your parents in their own home. Traditional home care involves carers coming to visit several times a day to help with the person’s care needs. This can offer support to the spouse who is healthier, enabling them to carry on looking after the other in familiar surroundings.

This type of care at home typically involves visits of 20 minutes or half an hour, and there is a limit to how much the carer can do in that time. If your mother or father has complex needs due to an illness or they need dementia care, traditional home care may not be enough to provide the support they require. There are also times, such as during the night, when the couple will be alone with no one available to help.

Mikis’ care story

In this short video, Nick and Maro explain their reasons for choosing Elder live-in care. They discuss how live-in care has allowed Nick’s father Mikis to stay independent in his own home while making a new friend at the same time.

Live-in care

Since older couples usually want to stay together and the majority express a wish to remain in their own home, private care is often the most suitable way to support them.

Private live-in care providers will match the live-in carer with the care recipients so that they get on well together. In addition to helping with your loved one’s needs by providing 24/7 assistance, a live-in carer can also support the couple by helping with domestic tasks such as laundry, cooking and shopping.

The carer will need their own room in your parents’ house as well as an internet connection and a TV for their leisure time. Although they will be available to help your mother and father with all their care needs and other tasks 24/7, it will probably be appropriate for them to give the couple some privacy, while being on call to help if necessary.

If your parent requires dementia care, it will be much less unsettling for them to remain in their own home, rather than having to go into a care or nursing home. The carer will also be there to support the other member of the couple, which is important since looking after someone who is living with dementia can be very stressful.

Advantages of 24-hour Care

The peace of mind that comes from knowing your elderly parents have someone to provide help whenever it is needed is immense. Having a carer available 24 hours a day also gives support to both members of the couple, and they will be able to specify what the daily tasks are.

From a financial point of view, live-in care can make better sense than paying for two places in a care home or nursing home. Because the carer will be able to help with so many aspects of daily life, there will be savings on other expenditure, such as home help or Meals on Wheels.

The care that your parents receive will be documented and a care plan drawn up so that all their needs are met. The care provider will consult both with the couple and with you to work out a plan of care that provides the best possible quality of life for your parents.

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"Knowing how happy someone is with their care package makes all the hard work worthwhile!"

Katherine, Care Professional at Elder

Katherine Elder Carer

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