All posts tagged Baby Boomers

New Alzheimers Study Uncovers Shocking Statistics

Are you scared about going into a care home because you have dementia? I know I am and a recent survey undertaken by the Alzheimer’s Society found that 70% of us would be.

They also found that 80% of people living in care homes either have dementia or severe memory problems, which is significantly higher than had previously been estimated.

Worryingly the survey also found low expectations and a great deal of pessimism about life in care homes and highlighted a severe ‘image crisis’ in the care sector which they believe is leading to a failure to drive up standards of care.91 years of life

My own experience, both personal (my mother lives in a care home for people with dementia) and professional (over 30 years social and NHS experience, working with older people) supports these findings.

Low staff morale contributes to ‘low image’ of care homes

In this country we value working with money – high salaries and excessive bonuses – more highly than working in the care sector, where care staff earn little more than the minimum wage. Add to this the fact that Local Authorities have driven care fees so low there generally aren’t enough staff to do a good job and it isn’t surprising morale is at an all time low and people aren’t rushing to do this much needed work.

Caring for people with dementia is complex and demands greater skill than looking after older people who may be physically frail but remain mentally alert, yet this expertise is not acknowledged or reflected in higher pay.

My mother’s care home – a model of doing it right

When I visit my mother, I am always impressed by the endless patience, kindness and skill staff show residents. My mother’s home takes people at local authority rates (under £500 a week) yet it didn’t stop them taking residents out for an expensive meal at Christmas.  In addition, the manager had WiFi installed throughout the home when Mum got her iPad and recently allowed an elderly lady’s little dog to come in with her. However I know this care home is the exception rather than the rule and unrelated to the level of care fees paid. High care fees certainly do not guarantee quality and there are as many bad homes at the top of the care fees scale as there are good ones.

My rule of thumb

In my work as an independent specialist in care management for older people I regularly visit care homes for older people with dementia. Regrettably very few of them are as good as my mother’s and therefore fail the test I use for my clients:

‘Would this home be good enough for me or someone I love?’

With the number of people with dementia rising exponentially alongside increasing expectations, things will have to change. We demand the best for our children and ourselves throughout our lives so why should we settle for anything less for our own parents?

They will however be the last generation who put up with being treated badly. The Baby Boomers have now reached pensionable age and we will demand nothing less than being treated with respect, dignity and compassion. Until that time though, people with dementia will continue to be scared of going into a care home and expectations about care standards will remain low.

How to find a good care home for people with dementia

You will find my post Ten Questions to Ask When Choosing a Care Home  helpful.

Here Come The Baby Boomers Changing Elderly Care

Have you thought about where and how you want to live as you become older? My interest in the issue was ignited by watching the film Quartet, a joyous, entertaining and uplifting story about a group of retired musicians who live together in a care home.

The care home is an opulent manor house in beautiful and extensive grounds and while the thought of living with like minded people who share a common interest appeals to me, I felt rebellion rising when one of the residents had to negotiate the time he and his friends could return after a meal out. I haven’t done that since I was a teenager and I didn’t do as I was told then! 

Care homes are unlikely to suit most Baby Boomers

Now I know a fair bit about care homes from both a professional and personal perspective. Enough to know that I most certainly do not want to live in one. The notion of being in a care home where underpaid carers tell me what’s good for me, encourage me to play bingo and put me to bed at night before I am ready because they are due to hand over to the night staff doesn’t bear thinking about. I actually hope to live in my own home until I leave feet first, but if I need care and support that might not be possible.

If I am one of the unlucky one in three people who will need care and support when I grow older, my options will be limited. This is because as a professional I have worked hard and gained a reasonable pension. This leaves me with too much income to access help from the state if I need care  but not enough for a carer to move in and look after me or for me to move in to one of the expensive assisted living apartments that are springing up everywhere. Sound familiar?

Some of us have already become carers for our parents or seen friends in this situation. Often, we’ve seen one parent outlive their partner by many years. We’ve seen stigma and we’ve seen dementia and it brings home to us some of the negative possibilities of old age.

Where we live is crucial in terms of ‘living’ rather than existing and we live in a diverse, multi-cultural society where older people come from different social, religious and economic backgrounds. We will all have different ideas about the kind of place we want to live in and the kind of care we want to receive.

Thoughts about future elderly care

I have been thinking about getting together with a group of friends to buy and adapt a large property into self contained apartments, one of which could be reserved for up to two carers, the cost of which will be shared between us (so care can be affordable and brought to us rather than being moved to the care) We could also share the cost of a cleaner and property maintenance and make optimum use of technology to maintain our independence, provide a less oppressive living environment and limit the cost of care.

Shaping future care for older people

Have you any thoughts or plans about how and where you’d like to live when you’re older, or are you sticking your head firmly in the sand? Isn’t it up to us to figure out where we go from here? I would love to hear your comments – let’s pool our ideas so we can begin to shape our future. Us Boomers have changed most other things so why not where and how older people live?