How can we make the most of later life? And how can we advise others who are facing its choices? Marion Shoard offers guidance
Later life brings many decisions with it, for those who are there themselves, for their friends and families, and for those who minister to them. Should Mrs Smith go into a care home? Should Dad ask not to be resuscitated? Here are ten bits of good advice to bear in mind and to share
Get independent advice before you relocate
A move to a care home can work well, particularly if the home is a good one and you would enjoy the company of the other residents. It also can be terrible, as many homes are of poor quality with few activities on offer, and it may be difficult to move back home after a contract has been signed, a tenancy surrendered or a house sold.
Check whether you need to go into a home. Everybody, rich or poor, is entitled to a free assessment of their need for care from their local authority’s social services department. People who move to a care home independently risk missing out on this assessment, relying on the opinion of a proprietor who is understandably keen to sell them a place. As a result, they may move to nursing home when all they need is a less costly residential one, or may move to a home when in fact they could manage in their own, with help sent in.
Choose your attorney carefully
The only grounds on which you can be forced to move to a care home against your will are if you lack the mental capacity to decide where you should live because you have a brain impairment, perhaps arising from dementia or a major stroke. In those circumstances, social services and/or your legal representative can decide on your behalf. It is therefore important to select your attorney or attorneys and the powers you give them carefully. Use the safeguards the system provides to keep other people, such as old friends, in the loop lest your attorney should misuse their powers, deliberately or from ignorance…
Marion Shoard is the author of How to Handle Later Life (Amaranth Books, 2017)
This is an extract from an article that was published in the October 2018 edition of Reform