By Jozi Stables, Care Home Manager with Renaissance Care
As the cost-of-living crisis looms over us as we approach winter, many families will be facing the tough decision of whether it is financially sensible, and safer, to move an elderly relative into the family home. With this, comes a host of new challenges to navigate for both the welcoming family and the elderly relative who is being moved homes.
Renaissance Care is a national care home provider and is well-versed in providing housing transition support for elderly people moving into its facilities and can offer some practical tips on easing that adjustment for both parties.
Jozi Stables, care home manager with Renaissance Care said:
“It can be a challenging time for families when they are transitioning a relative from independent living into an existing family home environment and something we are very aware of when residents come to stay with us at our care homes.
“It’s often a journey that all members of the family have to embark on and it’s very normal for there to be teething problems along the way. However, there are easy and effective ways that you can ease this transition to make the journey ultimately enjoyable for all involved.”·
Retain a sense of independence:
Elderly relatives who have lived alone for many years have their own routine, their own social commitments and their own needs for personal space. So, it’s really important to make sure when moving a relative into the family home that these rights are respected. Relatives should be able to come and go to their existing commitments as they wish, freely and without judgement. It can be easy to become overprotective, but it is important to continue to promote and support your relative’s independence. . Set clear boundaries from the outset on what they would like your help with and what they can manage on their own and stick to these – there’s no harm in reviewing these often but it’s important not to fuss and overstep the mark.
Routine is important:
Moving an elderly person into a hustling, bustling family home can be overwhelming – the noise, the pace and the routine are all quite unfamiliar. Try and make sure the relatives routine is implemented and blended into the running of the family home, this might look like earlier dinner times, adapting meals to suit the palette of your relative, changing the TV schedule and quieter evenings if they are early to bed. It is important to ensure your relative still has choice and you support them with their choices and routine.
Small adaptations are easily made:
Making your home a safe environment that encourages independence can seem like a daunting task but actually there are so many products available on the high street and online that making small changes is very achievable. Ergonomically designed kettles that are suitable for elderly people, as well as specially designed crockery and cutlery, and apparatus that can assist with getting dressed, are all readily available and can make a huge difference to the enjoyment of someone elderly moving into the family home. At Renaissance Care – and across the care sector – we encourage risk enablement, meaning that if the benefit outweighs the risk then the behaviour or task isn’t modified, so encouraging elderly people to continue making their own cups of tea is just one example of this.
Often elderly people feel that they have become a burden on their family, so providing consistent reassurance to the relative is very important. If it helps to take away the sense of being looked after, let your elderly relative contribute financially to the home, it might only be £20 but it will give them a sense of ‘paying their way’ – something heavily engrained in their generation.
Often such a big upheaval can lead to elderly people experiencing depression and low moods, and so it is really important to keep an eye on your loved one and monitor behaviours and be aware of any changes in their baseline health. It’s normal to have the odd day here or there where you’re not feeling 100% but if it becomes a constant, it’s time to flag your concerns to your elderly relative and – if you can – the family GP.
Create a quiet space:
It might seem obvious but creating a small space with home comforts that the relative can escape to for some quiet time can be invaluable. This can simply be putting a TV in their bedroom so that they can watch their own programmes without the interruption of family life.
“It’s really important to remember that your elderly relative is used to their independence, their home comforts and their own space – try and replicate those conditions in certain spaces within the home so that there is an escape from the hustle and bustle of a busy household. Most elderly people enjoy being around others but just like anyone else, they need time to recharge and unwind and we should be respectful of that.
“Sometimes it’s beneficial for both parties in the newly combined household to take a break, that’s where respite stays are an invaluable resource for families to call on – it can be a short weekend stay, a week or two.
“This is a big transition for everyone involved and it’s okay to take time, adjust and adapt – it might not happen overnight. There are also valuable resources available through Alzheimer’s Scotland, Health and Social Care Scotland and from your local GP practice.”
Renaissance Care Homes owns and operates sixteen homes located across Scotland and currently provides care provision for 700 residents throughout the UK.