We’re a population that is getting older, by 2029 it is predicted that 40% of the population will be over 50. This means that having to care for a relative alongside your children and work is becoming a common issue for mums and parents everywhere. In fact, at some point in their lives, three in five people across the United Kingdom will be carers.
Carers come from a number of different backgrounds and are of all ages. There are, of course, a number of emotional, practical and financial challenges that you will face but you will get through it and there is a wide-range of support available. So, where do you start?
What needs to be done?
When it is obvious that care is needed then you have to decide whether your relative needs a skilled nurse or not, whether they can take assisted living or does it make more sense for you to take care of them? Understand your limitations before undergoing this but if this calls for you then you need to undertake an assessment.
What is an assessment?
Your local social services will come out to assess what needs to be done. This will include discussions as to whether the person you will be caring for can live with you and whether you have the right accommodation (ie, stairlifts) for them to live in. Additionally, you may be entitled to support if you cannot deal with everything.
Check your benefits
Caring is a challenge to both time and money management but there is help and support available if you know where to look. For example, will you be spending 35 hours a week offering care? If so, you will be entitled to carer’s allowance that is a taxable benefit. Also, if the person you look after is 65 or over then you can get the tax-free benefit of attendance allowance or they may be entitled to constant attendance allowance or disability living allowance – two more tax-free benefits. Interest-free loans and income support will also be available.
Photo credit: Gareth 1953
Additionally, as the need for caring can happen at any moment and any age, there may be some compensation to claim for. Whether it is an industrial claim or a head injury claim, there may be some money that you are legally entitled to.
Work and time management
When this happens, the worst thing you can do is try to deal with it yourself. Oftentimes, your employer will be considerate and offer help to you as a carer. It is worth discussing it with them because flexible-working arrangements such as compressed working hours, part-time work or job-sharing may well be an option. Furthermore, there might be scope for you to take emergency time off or make arrangements for special leave.
Caring for a relative is an unpredictable job and it needs special considerations before you take it on. Similarly, if you have children then it can affect your quality time with them. You do need to be aware of what help and support you are entitled to before going in.