Included in the 35 hour rule??

For information and discussion about benefits
I've finished work to look after my parents and have been told that I should apply for 'carers allowance'
I'm confused about what's included in the required 35 hours of caring.
I realise some tasks are pretty obvious such as helping with cleaning, sorting medication, help with shopping, etc but there are some activities that I'm not sure would be included as part of the 35 hours, for example ...
1. taking my Mum to visit a friend
2. being on the other end of the phone incase my Mum needs me.

Also, how would I supply evidence of the tasks that I do for my Mum? How will they check? Will I have to keep a record of time spent caring for my Mum?
Thanks for any help, this is all new to me.
They won't check, but everything you do for mum counts, so be sure to apply asap.
Anything and everything you do for, and with Mum, throughout the entire 168 hours (24x7) is included -

Helping her get up and dressed in the morning and helping her back to bed at night
Dispensing medication
Preparing meals
Taking her shopping
Arranging and taking her to appointments
Keeping her company
Chauffeuring her to visit friends

and all the other myriad things that you do for her. If you sit down and write out hour by hour what you do for and with Mum you'll probably end up being amazed how you find any time for yourself !
When my son moved into residential care, coming home to me alternate weekends, I was told by the CA Unit that I didn't qualify any more. I then asked the CUK helpline.
They gave me details of a case which said that anything in advance of someone coming home, travelling to and from, and anything done afterwards to tidy up, do washing etc. DID count towards the 35 hours. Since the CA week starts on Sunday morning, that meant that Friday and Saturday were in one CA week, Sunday and Monday in another.
Since I always did cooking and shopping in advance of my son's visit, then went to collect him, and had to be around all the time he was here, I only needed 11 hours for the Friday, and 24 hours for the Saturday. Same again for the next week, Sunday/Monday.
As a result, I qualified for full CA, although he was only here alternate weekends. I hope this puts your mind at rest.
With details of the case concerned, I then reapplied to the CA Unit, and they granted me CA without any further problems.
Others here are the experts far more than me, but from what I've read on this forum (because before I joined I knew ZILCH about the 'official' side of caring!) your parents should, I think, be entitled to Attendence Allowance (ie, because they can no longer manage their lives entirely on their own) and this is not means tested - even my MIL now self-funding in a care home can get it!

Also, whilst you can only claim CA for looking after 'one' of them (ie, no matter how many people we care for, we still can only get one lot of CA), I believe it may be possible for the 'more able' parent to claim CA themselves for looking after the 'less able' one! Do check on this forum/website. Shame to turn down 'free money' (ie, paid in taxes during our working lives, NEVER forget that - and don't let your parents, either - the elderly often hate taking 'charity' or 'benefits' etc, so we have to remind them they have EARNED these 'allowances' via their years of paying taxes - and, another way of persuading them is to point out that none of them object to getting 'free' health care on the NHS - ie, because they've already paid for it in advance in their taxes! - nor do they object to claiming their state pensions - so things like CA and AA are NO DIFFERENT!).

However, I do think there is a much broader picture you now need to examine.

So many of us 'come to caring' in what really amounts to a 'crisis' or a 'no-choice' situation. For me, for example, the morning was very clear in my memory - I got a phone call from my MIL, most unusually mid morning, to say she couldn't face another winter on her own. She was 89 and lived 400 miles away from me. I immediately 'knee-jerked' and said I'd rush up to her (WHY???) (Panic, that's why!) that week and 'sort things out'. Well, that triggered six months of hell. I went through all sorts of 'hopefulness' that 'all I had to do' was move her south to be in a little flat near me, and she could carry on merrily on her own with me 'popping by' with shopping, etc etc.

Oh no, nothing of the sort! She was, I soon grimly realised, in the grip of developing dementia, and any hope of her living independently was out of the question. So the only choice was 'Give up my own life to look after her non-stop' (and I mean 'non-stop - I did it for weeks on end, dedicating each and every day to looking after her, from making breakfast to taking her out for drives, I used to call it Hotel Jenny....), or 'Putting her into residential care'.

I cracked after six months and came as close as I've ever been to having a nervous breakdown, screaming my head off and, quite seriously, considering crashing the car with her beside me into a brick wall to 'end it all' .....

I know I was 'extreme' but I say this to show how quickly and how drastically the idea of 'looking after our mum/dad/inlaws' can spiral 'out of control' . And what seems like a 'good and sensible idea' to begin with (eg, as you are doing, giving up your job to take on the full time care of your parents' can become a living hell....

The blunt truth is, what we can do for 'a limited time' is NOT what we can do for years, and years, and years, and years.....
Hi, me again - sorry, was getting a bit long (and emotional!)

In more 'reasoned' tones, please do have a Family Conference about the situation, both without your parents and then with them.

Plan for the long term - in the end, caring doesn't stop until both, sadly, have left this world. So think ahead, how will things be this time next year, and the year after, in five years time.

How much care do they need now? Whatever their ages, their needs will, inevitably increase as they age.

Is dementia likely to be in the frame for either/both of them?

What about their physical mobility? A non-mobile elderly parent is a completely different situation from a mobile one!

What is the financial impact of caring on you? You've lost your wages (but see below) and Carers Allowance plus Attendence Allowance is seldom the same amount!!!!!!

As you probably know, if your parents have, each, assets (property/savings/income) totally over £23,000 EACH (ie, jointly £46k), then they have to pay for their own care (however, having care-workers in may - please check here! - only depend on their income and savings, ie, if they own their own flat/house that won't be counted.

Many elderly would far rather have their children look after them - this is understandable, but not sustainable 24x7 x 10 years or whatever! You WILL need external help of some kind - whether this is day centres for them, or care-workers coming in. Your parents HAVE to accept you are not their 'slave' (however much they love you!) and you MUST have 'time off' for yourself as well.

Also, many elderly, again understandable, want to 'leave money' to their children - yet fail to understand that if you spend, say, the next ten years of your life looking atter them yourself to 'save money' you might actually prefer to have less inheritance then and more time off now!

Also, and this is REALLY important - parents can often want to leave their estate equally between siblings. BUT, if YOU are the only sibling to look after them, NO WAY does your sibling/s get equal dibs from the estate! So parents have to take that into account. They either leave you MORE or hand over money NOW. Many non-caring siblings don't see it that way.....

(There are forum members who have been shamefully exploited by callous siblings who leave them to do all the care, but put their hands out for their 'inheritance' when their parents finally die, having done zilch for them alive!!!!!)

I'm not trying to be totally negative here, only to point out the potential pitfalls. Looking after your parents yourself may indeed be the 'least worst' option (I say that because none of us want our parents to 'need' care!!!)(ie, we want them to stay as independent as possible etc), and it may work out well. But be ultra aware of what you are letting yourself in for, and most importantly, for how long. In the end, sadly, only their death removes the need for any care at all....

Wishing you as well as can be in this new stage of life.

PS Don't forget that you can do some paid work and still be eligible for CA, and having 'something else' going on in your life other than caring may prove a godsend??
On a much less negative/warning note, do do do take this opportunity of making the most of your parents, especially in terms of declining health. Let this be a 'golden sunset' time, perhaps, going through photos to capture who people are and draw up family trees, and histories and so on - these are memories that will serve you well when they are no more, and you can pass them on down the family too.

Do enjoy your parents as much as possible, and make the most of what they CAN do. With my poor MIL (of whom I am actually very fond - I just couldn't face giving up my life for her, as there was no one to help me at all or share her with - I'm widowed and her surviving son is in the USA, and dementia makes caring incredibly burdensome), I got as many memories off her as I could, and now, sadly, it's ME who has to tell HER about family things - she has no knowledge of it any longer. So so sad.
Thank you all so much, your answers have been reassuring and made me realise that I am indeed spending the required 35 hours a week of caring!
Also thanks Jenny for providing an insight into the ups and downs of a 'caring life' I can see it's going to be a rollercoaster of an emotional journey.
It's definitely a rollercoaster, both emotionally and in practical terms. Do read around on the forum - there is a wealth of experience here and we've all got Carer T-shirts of one description or another!

Are you 'sole carer' or are other members of your family involved? I do hope the latter. It's 'solo caring' (which I was facing) that make it SO difficult. Just being able to share the care with others, however it is managed, takes a huge amount of the stress out of it.

Sorry if I 'went on a bit' (!!!!!) - it was a pretty long 'brain dump' I know. One of the members here is seriously considering writing a book on 'Caring for the Elderly' and I think we could all contribute to it - it could be a VERY long book!

We have to feel our way forwards, and I know that with hindsight, I would have done things differently, had I known what I was letting myself in for. Perhaps the worst 'crime' I committed, and it still upsets me to think of it, is that I did the wrong thing for the right reason - by having my MIL to stay with me for weeks and weeks at a time (five weeks was the longest single stretch) ALL I achieved was to give her a taste of the life she WANTED to have (living at Hotel Jenny with me looking after her the whole time until she died) and yet because it was breaking me up, I had to take it away from her and 'dump her in a care home'. It would have been kinder NEVER to have tried to look after her myself, so she never had to lose what she wanted, and what I could not sustain. I ended up making her more unhappy than she might have been if I'd moved her straight into care from the off.

Alas, 20.20 hindsight is an excellent thing - and none of us has it, sigh.
Hi Jenny,
I'm an only child and so I'm the sole carer.
I left work because it was getting way too difficult trying to juggle everything and since then it's been so much easier and a lot less stress, it was definitely the right decision, my sanity has been saved!
I do miss work, well not the actual work, it's the people and the 'banter' that I miss but I'm fortunate to still be in touch and I'm managing to get to see them occasionally.
Even though it's tough doing everything myself, in another way it's a blessing. I have a friend who is a carer but she's having so many arguments with her siblings over the amount of caring that each of them is doing.
Thanks so much for your insights and advice :)