The arrival of a new baby leads to 9 months of physical and practical preparation. It’s tough to manage a new baby on your own so being able to afford to choose what you want to buy whilst getting the right equipment, support and advice can make a huge difference to the wellbeing of the new family.
Why is it that we don’t consider preparing for older age in a similar way? After all, being able to afford to live well, getting the right equipment, support and advice is just as important, maybe even more so in your older age.
Firstly, we do need to agree on something – at what age do we become ‘old?’
Do you consider yourself to be old? Probably not, especially if you are under 30 years of age. Try asking those around you; I guarantee that you will get some interesting replies. I asked a 17-year-old who said a person was old if they were over 50 years. I asked a 78-year-old, who said it’s someone in their 80’s. With this in mind, we can agree that older age is subjective and depends on other people’s perception of you.
So, what can you do to help your mum (or dad, or relative) prepare for older age?
Please, please, whatever your age, have a conversation with your mum about how she wants to be supported now or in the future. You can’t read her mind and the only way to know for sure is if you ask. It is too late to do this when you are in a crisis.
If she wants you to provide some or all of her support long-term, consider this carefully before you commit. Think about your own health, family and life first. After all, you may be providing this care, and much more, for years to come. Much better to say now if you are unsure and look at other options.
And for goodness’ sake, don’t put your head in the sand and think mental or physical ill-health won’t happen to your mum. None of us know what’s around the corner, and the more prepared you are for whatever life throws at you, the more resilient you will be and the better decisions you will make. If you are worried and don’t know which way to turn, speak to a trusted professional; whether it’s someone involved in health or in social care for support and advice.
Ask yourself ‘can mum afford to live well in older age?’, because there is no denying good care and support costs money. Check she is claiming all the benefits that she is entitled to. Not all are means tested so she could be missing out on free Government money to offset her care costs.
Don’t let your mum stint on her care and support in order to keep money in the bank. She’s worked hard for her money and deserves to be safe, comfortable and supported in her older age.
If you are thinking of buying equipment to keep your mum as safe, independent and mobile as possible in her own home I would recommend that you get the right advice first. Don’t waste your money on equipment which is not suitable as it will only remain unused, gathering dust in the corner. Get the right equipment for her, not what her friend, neighbour or celebrity in a magazine advert tell you to get.
Please encourage your mum to maintain links with her family and friends, especially the ones from work, or help her make the time to meet new people. Encourage her to discover new interests, volunteer her time or skills and to keep learning and be as active as she can. The old adage ‘Use it or lose it’ is so true in older age. You want your mum to enjoy herself and enjoy life to the full.
I really do believe it is possible to enjoy a good older age. It happens to us all eventually and it can be just as rewarding as all the other stages of our lives. It’s all a matter of good preparation and planning.