Reuniting with Elderly Parents this Festive Season

Reuniting with Aged Parents this Festive Season

© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions

Discuss care support when visiting elderly parents this festive season

With border restrictions starting to ease across the country, many adult children and their families are mapping out plans to visit older parents who they may not have seen for well over six months.

 

The Covid-19 virus and your visit

Your primary concern may be to make sure you don't bring the dreaded Delta strain with you if you live in a hotspot. Medical research[1] in the UK, US and Israel shows that despite being vaccinated, you can unknowingly spread the virus and that vaccinated people with poor health may be severely impacted.

The research is evolving and our experience in Australia is about to be tested as restrictions ease.

A sensible precaution is to get tested 72 hours before your visit, and perhaps lie low in the fortnight leading up to your reunion with elderly parents.

 

Looking out for your parents

Leaving the pandemic behind us, on visiting for the first time in a long time, adult children may be shocked to see some marked deterioration in the health of their parents. You may also notice neglect around the home and garden.

The lack of socialisation over the lockdown period may indicate an increase in their cognitive decline, loss of routine and general decline in their overall health and frailty.

Try not to appear 'shocked' when you first see them, but observe carefully and take down notes about things you've noticed are different or not being done.

 

My advice is to use your visit as an opportunity to have a discussion around planning ahead. Here I recommend talking about organising some support in and around the home so that your parent's independence can be maintained for as long as possible. Try to avoid the word "care" if you can as it often brings up the 'walls'. "Support" sounds much better and older Australians are more accepting of that word.

Instead of using the word "care" when talking to older loved ones, try using the word "support".

 

Ageing in place

We know that most senior Australians want to stay in their own home as they age[2]. In my experience, if by around 75 years of age your elderly loved ones have not moved to a smaller dwelling, apartment complex or retirement village, it is likely that they will want to stay where they are for the rest of their life. The dislocation from their familiar environment and routine will be too much. Moving creates unnecessary stress and anxiety for most people, let alone someone in their mid to late 70's.

Having organised care for thousands of Australians over a 35-year career in the care sector, I can also confirm that many may have stayed in their home longer if in-home care and support had been organised earlier.

I am suggesting that you use your visit to organise this support.

 

My Aged Care: apply for government-subsidised in-home care

The Australian Government provides government-subsidised aged care support for all Australians over 65 years of age. You can apply for this support on behalf of your parents or organise for your parents to apply through the government's My Aged Care website[3] or the My Aged Care phone line: 1800 200 422. The phone line is open weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm.

 

The first step: confirm the need for support through an initial assessment

With your parents present and their Medicare cards handy, I suggest you access the online application / assessment form[4] on your smartphone and run through the 20 to 30 minute survey to work out whether your parents need support. Put aside an hour to do this just to be safe.

Don't rush the process and sit in a relaxed environment. Switch off any television or radios or other distractions in the background.

 

The survey, presented in a multiple-choice response format, asks questions around whether your parents find it difficult to: get out of bed or chairs; walk; talk a bath or shower; prepare meals; shop for groceries; undertake basic housework; and so on. There will also be questions around how your parents have been getting by, for instance whether any family, friends or paid service providers have been assisting to date.

On completing the survey, you will be advised on whether your loved ones are eligible for assistance and, if so, how to arrange a face-to-face assessment in your parent's home.

 

The second step: the face-to-face assessment

If your answers indicate that some home support is required, the government's Regional Assessment Service will be in contact to organise a date for the face-to-face assessment. If more comprehensive support is required, then the government's Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) will be in contact. Both assessments take place in the home of the person receiving the care.

It normally takes around three weeks for either the Regional Assessment Service or ACAT to be in touch to arrange the visit. If you have not heard from them after three weeks, follow up with a phone call to My Aged Care (1800 200 422).

 

Being present at the assessment

Your holiday with your parents may well and truly be over by the time of the face-to-face assessment. You can request to be present via phone or virtually via Zoom. If you live overseas or more remotely from your parents, we can also be present on the ground with your loved one.

If you need assistance at any point in this journey, please feel free to contact me, Danielle Robertson, at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion. We offer expertise on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place.

 

* Any information in this blog is not to be considered as medical advice. Please visit your GP for medical advice.

 

Resources

[1] ABC News: How The Covid Vaccine Changes the Risks of Infection for You
[2] DRCS Blog: Royal Commission Study - Australian Views on Ageing
[3] My Aged Care: Apply For An Assessment
[4] My Aged Care: Apply For An Assessment Online

 

Recent Posts

See All