Demanding jobs, childcare and elderly parent care.

Demanding jobs, childcare and elderly parent care.

Posted by Debbie Harris

The sandwich generation’s search for elderly care.

Managing your job, your children and now your ageing parents, can be something of a juggling act

Whoever said ‘you can have it all’ was clearly misguided!

Sandwich generation search online for answers to elderly care questions
Online search for parents' elderly care

Many of us are experiencing a demanding time in our lives where we seem to be both cash and time poor (how did that happen?), when, on top of everything else, our parents urgently need support too – perhaps more than we can actually give them, however much we might want to.

So feelings of guilt and frustration often set in.

Presenting at a webinar with employees of London-based professional services firms recently, Autumna’s founder, Debbie Harris found just how significant an issue this is, and confirmed the knowledge gaps that exist amongst those who find themselves responsible for organising care for elderly parents, or even grandparents.

First of all, no one has any ‘spare’ time, and without knowing what is going to be involved in finding the best elderly care solution, it’s hard to know where to start.

Because we don’t tend to plan for later life care, we don’t know what to look for or where to go for guidance, despite the enormous amount of information that is actually ‘out there’. We tend to wait for the situation to reach a crisis point. It’s only then that we find that synchronising a variety of services is immensely challenging. It’s only then that we find that understanding the variety of options available for our ageing parents – whether that be care homes, home care, live in care - requires time-consuming investigation.

'This is precisely why Autumna was established: to provide information and access to everything you would need to know – in one place, and thus help you to plan effectively for the future – whether for yourself, your partner or your parents.'

Debbie Harris
Portrait of Debbie Harris, Founder of Autumna
Debbie Harris, Founder of Autumna

The webinar attracted more than 300 participants, all of whom had responsibility for supporting their elderly parents in some way. They were all involved in trying to find their way through the social care maze.

Their main concerns and questions, when looking for care for an elderly relative, are highlighted below.

1. Planning

  • What information about possible elder care solutions can be gathered in advance? What ‘pre emergency’ preparation can be made?
  • How far in advance should people be looking at later life care options?

Some of the answers to those questions can be found here: Planning

2. Understanding the different elderly care options

  • How many different types of elderly care are there?
  • Under what circumstances might I need them?
  • What are the different services that each offers?
  • What is the relative cost of each elder care option?
  • Are there care homes that cater for specific medical conditions, for example, MS?
  • In a retirement village, do you have to buy your own property, or can you rent?
  • What is the level of carer provision on hand in a retirement village?
  • How should I weigh up the options to arrive at the best solution for my ageing parent’s care?

Autumna answers these questions here: Care advice

3. Later life care funding options 

  • What are the funding options available to people paying for their own later life care?
  • How do I find out whether my elderly parent is entitled to any support with their medical or care costs?
  • What is the role of the local authority, specifically:
  • Will the local authority pick up the bill if my parent’s money runs out and they can no longer pay the care home fees?
  • Will the local authority make deferred payments to cover the cost of care until funds tied up in the parent’s property can be released following its sale?

Autumna partners with Eldercare Solutions who are accredited by SOLLA (Society of Later Life Advisers). Eldercare have some very helpful advice on Funding care here or they can be contacted free of charge on 0800 082 1155


4. The legal implications of making decisions on behalf of parents who need care.

  • Who should I approach for an LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney)?
  • Who should actually have an LPA? Both parents? Ourselves?
  • If my parents don’t wish to make an LPA, or they leave it too late until there is a crisis with their health, what will the implications be for making decisions on their care for them?
  • At what point can a GP intervene and recommend elderly care when, for example, a parent showing signs of dementia does not want to go into a care home?

Autumna partner with legal advisers, Parfitt Cresswell: Many of the answers can be found here, Legal advice but they can also be contacted by phone on: 0800 999 4437

The following final two categories that can be pulled out of the webinar responses illustrate the need for support in the more emotional areas involved in finding care for an elderly parent as well as the practical. They also highlight the value in planning early for later life care.


5. Managing the emotional challenges of taking care of parents

  • The changing relationships within the family (Child/Adult; Husband/Wife)
  • Having tough conversations with parents
  • Helping them understand their needs
  • Overcoming their obstinacy
  • Managing disagreements with siblings
  • Staying patient, limiting stress, managing guilt
  • Keeping the logical and emotional separate


6. Providing support to ageing and ailing parents

  • How can I help when I am living remotely from them?
  • They both have increasing needs – how can I manage those?
  • Mum has passed away and dad is lonely – how can I help him?
  • How can I ensure they have emergency support when I am not available?
  • Where can I find financial advice free of charge?
  • Are the funding rules the same if a person is under a section 117?
  • Is funding available to make adaptations to a house so that it is safe and secure and means my mum can continue living there

We can all save ourselves a lot of worry and stress if we address a difficult subject in advance – before it becomes difficult – than if we ignore the future and just keep our fingers crossed, whilst that lurking elephant in the room becomes enormous.

As the manager of a truly wonderful care home in Tunbridge Wells said to Autumna just last week:

‘If more people planned for this in good time, they could come in here and really enjoy living, rather than just coming in expecting to die.’

A dramatic comment perhaps, but a point well made.

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