Caring for elders is never a simple formula you can adhere to. Everyone’s needs are different, which can cause varying issues to arise. This is also true of the caregivers, and one issue that some face is having to care for two elders at the same time. It’s not as easy as just presuming that it’s twice the work; there are plenty of other aspects that need to be taken into consideration.
Here are a few tips for caring for two elders at the same time…
Determine the needs of each individual
The first thing you need to do is work out the individual needs of each elder you care for. It’s unlikely that both are going to need the exact same level of care, so you need to determine who needs what and how you’ll use your time most effectively. Obviously, if one elder requires significantly more care than the other then there’s a good chance they will take up most of your time. However, don’t neglect the other elder just because it seems they need less care. They could easily feel ignored and become unhappy. Draw up a rota if that suits, or if you can, sit down with the elders and discuss their needs together so they understand how much time you’ll be spending with them.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Some carers may insist they have everything under control, even if they’re struggling. However, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting a little help is needed. This help could come in various forms. You can call in hired help, such as council-supplied carers, or you can ask other family members to help. Even if they live a long distance away, you can still ask them to help in some way, whether that’s organising things by phone, or just calling to provide some companionship.
If you’re really struggling and money allows then you could consider a care home. This might seem like a drastic approach but it’s one that could work. Speak with extracare.org.uk or other similar organisation to get a grasp of what this entails and whether it’s a suitable option.
Don’t think that you can’t still work
An immediate thought when caring for one elder, never mind two, is that your career must be sacrificed. Well that simply isn’t the case. Unless you intend on becoming a full-time carer, there’s absolutely no reason why you need to give up your job. In fact, as much normality as possible is beneficial for everyone. If you’re looking after two elders, then depending on the level of care needed, they may well be able to look after themselves and each for much of the day, with you just being there in the mornings and evenings to help out. If that’s not possible, then you may be able to employ someone to come in during the day, and still working will put you in a better position to afford such services. Many companies are very reasonable about allowing time off or flexi-time to care for family members, so if it’s a concern just speak to your employer and see if there’s a way you can work it out – there usually is.
Make room for a little ‘me’ time
It’s natural for carers to not have enough free time for themselves, but it’s important you make some time to relax and do something enjoyable away from their day-to-day routine. You might feel guilty, as if you’re neglecting the elders, but no-one should be expected to completely forego their own personal time. All caregivers should ensure they make the extra effort to have some downtime, which will benefit both themselves and those they’re looking after.
Also, do not forget about your own family. If you have children, a husband, a wife, siblings, don’t neglect them. A healthy work-life balance is important and shouldn’t be underestimated in improving the standard of your care.
For more information on caring for the elderly, visit Age UK where you can find some really helpful stuff on a range of topics.
This post is in collaboration with Extracare