In my fourth blog, I look at finding support for my Mother in the last few years of her life.
Well, this may be the most surprising thing that I learnt. Finding help and support is hard. I don’t mean health or social care; we will come to that in my next blog. I mean all the stuff that made my Mums life more fulfilled, more connected and happier. Despite all of the years of the internet, no one has cracked this one. Maybe the reason older people don’t use the internet is that there is little for them to use.
I began to look for three types of services close to my Mother’s home:
- Personal – finding a hairdresser that would come to Mum, someone to do her nails and perhaps bring some clothes for her to try. A dentist that does not have steps into the surgery.
- Household – cleaning services, a handyman, painters and general helpers.
- Community – lunch clubs, trips out and art and social events for older people.
There’s no database of this stuff, well not one that worked for me for services local to my Mother lived. The local council would not make recommendations; the GP knew nothing, notice boards were generally out of date. No one seemed to know anything. Try it for yourself, see if you can find services for someone in your area. The authorities are quick to complain about older people falling into statutory care, but they seem to no idea how to provide an alternative solution.
I realised that I was going to have to make a plan and there are my top tips:
- When I went to see Mum, I would always look around for services. I had an Evernote notebook on my Phone and recorded any useful information
- I used my camera to take photos of noticeboards so I could look for any relevant services.
- Don’t expect to find any sensible databases of service you are going to have to create your own
- If you have the opportunity to ask someone about services, always ask, everyone now and then you will find someone that knows who provides services.
- Use the web to find what you can, sometimes some areas have good resources, in my Mum’s case there was no such resource, but I used the good ones as a key to the things I might be able to find.
- Find out where older people go for coffee, sometimes the café owner has an excellent idea of what is going on locally.
- Local charities and their shops are sometimes a good source of information. But don’t expect much.