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Dementia care – How to find the help you need

When you’re caring for a parent, or partner, with dementia it can be hard to continue without help from others. We asked the experts behind PayingForCare for advice on where to find the right information to help us when we need it most.

We’d like to think that we can do it all on our own but in reality dementia can be a tricky condition to care for. As your parent’s dementia worsens they’ll become increasingly confused and less able to carry out basic day-to-day tasks including personal care. Frustration and irritableness usually follow when your parent is unable to remember or do things without help. The person you knew and loved can become unrecognisable, and this can prove very challenging.

Caring for someone with a progressive condition like dementia should not be underestimated. According to the Alzheimer’s Society there are around 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK, two thirds of whom receive care in their own homes.

For many of us with parents who suffer from dementia home care is the ideal setting for our parent. Familiar surroundings reassure parents who are struggling to remain in the present and the presence of family members can provide added support. But for those of us caring for our parent at home the stress and work involved can become overwhelming.

Getting a break from caring is vital for you and for your parent. It’s hard to let someone else care for your parent whilst you rest – anxiety and guilt can creep in when you feel like you’re unable to look after their every need. Nobody’s perfect! ‘Carer’s syndrome’ can impact upon your quality of life as well as your parent’s – sometimes relying on family and friends for support can be the best option to ensure that your wellbeing isn’t jeopardized.

Don’t forget that if you’re caring for your parent you have the legal right to request an assessment of your own needs. The assessment is carried about by your local authority’s social services department who determine what help they can provide in order to maintain your own health and balance caring with work and family life. To find out more about carer’s assessments click here. Alternatively you can call the free Carers Direct helpline on 0808 802 0202.

You can also find services and support groups local to you with the Alzheimer’s Society’s useful search tool and appropriate care to suit yours and your parent’s needs on Find Me Good Care.

If your parent is caring for their partner it may be possible for them to move into one of a small but growing number of extra care residential settings where the person with dementia receives the support they need and can also live with, or close to, their partner. Housing Care and The Good Care Guide are just two places you can look for specialist accommodation like this.

Why do those with dementia need a Lasting Power of Attorney in place?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is important to have in place for those who lack the mental capacity to manage their affairs and make important decisions. People who’re living with dementia will need to make these arrangements at a point when they can still decide for themselves who is best placed to look after their financial and property affairs as well as their personal welfare.

It’s commonly assumed that if your parent were to lose their mental capacity their partner or perhaps yourself would automatically take control of their affairs. In fact, it’s the responsibility of The Office of the Public Guardian to appoint an attorney to ensure your parent’s wishes are carried out – your parent must let them know their choice with a LPA.

There are two types of LPAs:

  1. A Property and Affairs LPA allows your parent to nominate up to four people to deal with their property and finances
  2. A Health and Welfare LPA covers issues such as day-to-day care as well as the use of life-sustaining treatment.

Different attorneys can be chosen for each of these types.

More information, support and advice can be found on the Carers Trust website as well as the Carers UK site.

PayingForCare is a national, not-for-profit organisation that helps older people and their families access expert information on care and the cost of care homes. Their free advice service can help you and your parent as you navigate care choices and costs together.

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