© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
A financial adviser called on DR Care Solutions to assist a family where the wife, Jan*, had recently been diagnosed with early onset dementia and husband, Jack*, was no longer coping with amount of the care required.
At 71 years of age, Jan was physically fit but her cognition was rapidly declining, more rapidly than expected.
The challenges mounted for Jack with Jan becoming lost in shopping centres, resisting showers and changes of clothes, and refusing to help around the house. Episodes of incontinence were becoming more regular. She slept most of the day and, when awake, was frequently confused and frustrated. At the same time, Jack was struggling with his own serious health issues.
The straw that broke the camel’s back arose when Jack, driving home from the shops one day, found Jan walking down the middle of a busy road trying to make her way home. He was exhausted both physically, from the demands of running the household and the daily incontinence laundering, and mentally, from the worry of ‘what would happen next’. Something had to give.
In this scenario:
The family had been given conflicting advice from My Aged Care, their GP, a Geriatrician and well-meaning friends. They didn’t know which direction to take or where to start searching for care solutions.
The family were not aware of the care and support options available to allow Jan to remain at home for as long as possible.
Estate Planning for the couple was all in place.
Care Solution One
Completed a comprehensive care needs assessment taking into account all Jan's clinical and cognitive care requirements and making sure she was involved in the assessment process. Despite her condition, Jan shared her likes and dislikes, hobbies and pastimes, and only occasionally looked to Jack for answers.
Arranged My Aged Care registration for both Jan and Jack while their two sons were present, listing both sons as representatives for their parents.
Organised a Regional Assessment Service (RAS) assessment and, later when Jan needed a reassessment and more government-funded support, an ACAT Assessment.
Developed a Life Plan™ with clear recommendations on what could be implemented and quickly.
Introduced a quality Home Care provider from the DR Care Solutions Preferred Provider Network and commenced home cleaning, shopping and social support services in addition to some government-funded in home respite care.
Arranged for Jan to visit an elderly day care centre once a week to give Jack respite. While Jan felt the other participants were ‘too old’, she continued attending weekly to give Jack a break.
This solution ran smoothly for eight months until Jan's deteriorated to the extent that the increasing amount of home care required started taking over the household and its finances. At this point, in December 2019, DR Care Solutions was re-engaged to find suitable residential aged care.
Care Solution Two
In finding suitable residential aged care, DR Care Solutions:
Ran its comparative residential aged care facility report and arranged a family tour of the multiple facilities having the expertise to manage the care required, in the family's preferred location, and within its capacity to pay.
Arranged for Jan to be well cared for at home on the residential aged care tour days to allow the family to focus on the task at hand.
Met Jack's request that one of his adult sons and two of his young grandchildren (aged 10 and 7 years) join us for the tours. It was an unusual request and we were unsure of how the young children would take to touring ‘memory support units’. We decided to proceed on the basis that if they were going to visit their Nanna Jan there, it was probably a good idea.
Conducted a debrief with Jack, the sons and young children after each facility tour. The feedback and observations from the children were so insightful. In discussing what they liked and disliked, they commented on how happy or sad the residents and staff were, how the accommodation ‘felt’ to them, and whether their Nanna Jan would be happy there.
Collated the comments and provided a list of pros and cons in relation to each facility. The family then made their decision.
In late January 2020, Jan relocated to a residential aged care facility that suited her needs and offered engaging activities of interest to her. We assured Jan that she would remain safe and well cared for and would be given healthy nutritious meals. She knew that Jack lived only 10 minutes away and would visit regularly, as would her two sons and their families.
Since then, Jack has returned to all the hobbies and activities that had been put on hold to care for Jan. Admittedly, he has mentioned that Covid-19 has ‘thrown a spanner in the works’ as the bi-weekly bowls and after-game drinks have been cancelled. Though he is quick to acknowledge that he now has peace of mind knowing that Jan has the best possible care she can have for the rest of her life.
* Names have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of subjects.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the decisions that need to be made for the care of your loved one? Please reach out to me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place.