02/04/2014 06:08 BST | Updated 01/06/2014 06:59 BST

Caring for Elderly Relatives

Caring is one of the most stressful, but at the same time rewarding, challenges we may face. Helping out parents in older age is simply a part of life's cycle, gradually or perhaps owing to a sudden change of circumstance we can find ourselves with more responsibility than we had anticipated. Caught between children on one side and ageing parents on the other can be both an emotional and financial burden. Other than the personal care there are other legal and financial matters to attend to that can be overwhelming.. Here's a list of practical considerations:

What type of care is needed?

It can help in the first instance to decide what type of care is needed and how that may evolve in the future. One type of independent care involves being cared for at home with skilled help coming in at intervals throughout the day or week. Another option is the support of extra-care sheltered housing, ones which provide meals and personal care are available.

Alternatives to care in the home or sheltered housing would be a Residential Home, this option is useful either as a permanent long term solution or for respite care.

If you live a fair distance from the relative you have responsibility for you may want to consider the use of an app such as HomeTouch. HomeTouch allows you to track care activities, monitor medication and keep an eye on trends, it enables you to invite family and friends to share the information. The idea being that the care providers can improve the quality of care, spot any problems which may arise early and reduce the social isolation that can sometimes occur as well as reassuring the more distant members of the families of those relatives.

Managing Finances and Decisions

There may come a time where you need to make basic financial and care decisions for your parents or other relatives.

Eventually Power of Attorney might be needed, you will need to draw up the necessary document with a legal expert.

Another important document is a will. Make sure your relative has a will that is legally binding. When an elderly relative passes away it's naturally an upsetting time, try to make sure that the will includes some wishes of the person in question - whether they would prefer cremation or burial and the type of service. This enables you to make sure their wishes are honoured.

This list is just a start. Remember it's crucial that you have a break sometimes. Encourage your relative to be as involved as possible in his or her care. Make sure that any siblings or other relatives pitch in and help. Delegating even small tasks can relieve the burden.

Caring for elderly relatives is not easy, but don't forget that it's a generous and fulfilling thing to do. Your loved one may not be able to express it but they'll undoubtedly be grateful to have someone who is willing to care for them in their vulnerable years.