Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

Jargon-free A-Z of elderly care

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When your parents age and you have to start dealing with the problems associated with old age, there is a great deal of terminology which is often hard to understand. Here we try to get to grips with it in the simplest terms to help you through the care minefield:

Advanced directive: Also known as a Living Will, this is a statement explaining what medical treatment the individual would not want in the future, should that individual ‘lack capacity’, as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005

Alzheimer’s : Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.

Arthritis: Inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness, and resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes. It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Assistive technology: Assistive technology (AT) is a generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities

Care assessments: An assessment will look at your relative’s needs and recommend the appropriate services. Normally, an assessment is required before any services can be provided by the social services department of a local authority, but if the need is urgent, the local authority can provide help without carrying out the assessment.

Care homes: A care home is a residential setting where a number of older people live, usually in single rooms, and have access to on-site care services. Since April 2002, all homes in England, Scotland and Wales are known as ‘care homes’, but are registered to provide different levels of care. A home registered simply as a care home will provide personal care only, i.e. help with washing, dressing and giving medication. A home registered as a care home with nursing will provide the same personal care, but also have a qualified nurse on duty twenty-four hours a day to carry out nursing tasks. These homes are for people who are physically or mentally frail, or people who need regular attention from a nurse.

Carer’s Assessment: Unpaid carers over the age of 16 are entitled to an assessment of their own needs, if they are providing, or intending to provide, a substantial amount of care on a regular basis. If you, as a carer, have your own need for community care services because of ill health or disability, you may also be eligible for your own community care assessment.

Continuing care: NHS continuing healthcare is a package of continuing care provided outside hospital, If you are eligible, you can receive NHS continuing healthcare in any setting, for example, in your own home: the NHS will pay for healthcare, such as services from a community nurse or specialist therapist and personal care, such as help with bathing, dressing and laundry or in a care home: as well as healthcare and personal care, the NHS will pay for your care home fees, including board and accommodation. NHS continuing healthcare is free, unlike social and community care services provided by local authorities, for which a charge may be made, depending on your income and savings.

Dementia: The word dementia is used to describe a group of symptoms. Although dementia is commonly thought of as memory loss, the reality is much more complex, and symptoms between the different forms of dementia can vary a great deal. Dementia symptoms can include memory loss, confusion and mood changes.

Macular degeneration: Macular degeneration is the progressive deterioration of a critical region of the retina called the macula.The symptoms of Wet Macula degeneration are blurred vision when reading or watching television, waviness of straight lines, distorted faces, feeling eyesight has changed and the need for new spectacles, inability to judge distances when driving and hitting the road kerb and difficulties with pouring water in a cup and accidentally scolding their hands with the hot water.

Palliative care: This focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. Unlike hospice care, palliative medicine is appropriate for patients in all disease stages, including those undergoing treatment for curable illnesses and those living with chronic diseases, as well as patients who are nearing the end of life.

Personal budgets: Personalisation, also know as Self-Directed Support, is a way of working that gives people and their carers more control, choice and flexibility over how they plan and manage their social care support.

Personal care plans: A personal care plan tells carers about your parent and sets out the key things your parent does and does not like and also specifies the little things which can make a big difference. Setting out a personal care plan can be helpful if you are getting carers into your parent’s home, or if they are going into a care home. This latter case if possibly even more important, as they are leaving the familiar surroundings of their own home behind.

Power of Attorney: Power of attorney enables your ageing parent to give power to another person to look after their affairs when they no longer have capacity to do so themselves, for example, if they have a stroke, develop dementia or any other illness which impairs their ability to make decisions.

Probate: Grant of Probate is an order of the Court, giving one or more people the legal authority to administer the estate of the deceased, in order to distribute it correctly to the beneficiaries.

State pensions: This gives a regular income once a person reaches state pension age.It is based on National Insurance contributions and the amount you get depends on how much you paid in.

Stroke: A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain.

Trusts: Trusts are there to provide income to others in specific circumstances.

Wills and Living Wills: A will ensures that those people who they want to benefit from your estate on death receive their entitlement. These could be relatives, friends or charities. A living will also known as an advanced directive, is a statement explaining what medical treatment the individual would not want in the future, should that individual ‘lack capacity’, as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

http://www.myageingparent.com has information on all of these areas to help you help your elderly parent or relative

Tes Smith
Social Care Programme Manager
Macmillan Cancer Support

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Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

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