© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
A few weeks back, I raised the point that many adult children, who due to lockdowns have not seen their parents for a long time, may be in for a bit of a shock this Christmas (see blog: Reuniting with Elderly Parents this Festive Season).
When it comes to supporting ageing loved ones, particularly those over 75 years, my advice is to allow them to age in place and plan and receive in-home support early on.
As I always say, having the right care, support and living arrangements in place at the right time allows them to live better and longer lives, with the independence, dignity and security they desire.
However, there may come a time when an ageing loved one cannot remain in their own home. And a word of warning here:
Never promise a loved one that you won’t ever place them into residential aged care.
A better approach is to explain to your loved one that you will do your best to keep them at home for as long as possible. Sometimes, it is simply not feasible for them to remain in their own home.
When residential care becomes essential
Listed below are some of the reasons the spouses and adult children I have assisted have had to encourage their loved one to move to residential care.
The care needs are now very high, with the loved one unable to perform basic daily tasks such as showering, going to the toilet, getting out of bed, and so on.
The behaviours brought on by cognitive decline are too difficult to manage and too risky, such as wandering.
Their end of life care requires special palliative care teams (and equipment) in place which can be prohibitively expensive (financially) to have 24/7 care with rotating rosters of carers and nurses.
While the Australian Government subsidises in-home care and support, the funding does not cover 24/7 care. The family is willing to pay, out of their own pocket, for additional home care (‘fee for service’) but realise they cannot afford to do so beyond a week or two.
No family members can accommodate for the loved one in their own home, nor do they have the physical and emotional ability, time, or nursing background to manage the loved one’s care needs.
How to have the conversation
There are ways to present these reasons with your loved one. At all times put yourself in their shoes – how would you like this discussion to be presented to you. A few tips here:
Be in a comfortable, relaxed and familiar environment. Turn off the phone, radio and television or remove other distractions.
Listen to your loved one’s concerns, take notes but look at them in their eyes while they are speaking.
Remain calm and speak clearly and slowly, don’t rush the conversation.
If your loved one remains in denial and refuses to entertain the discussion of moving into residential care, rely on someone respected by your loved one to continue the conversation.
Call on the help of your loved one’s GP, their medical specialist, their solicitor or a trusted adviser or family friend. Rely on all of them, and think hard and long about who will help you budge your loved one’s thinking.
One family called on their local police officer to pay a visit to encourage their loved one with dementia, who wandered the streets, to move into residential care for their own safety. That worked.
Dealing with the guilt
Throughout the process, you will be engulfed with guilt as you want the very best for your loved one. Refer to an earlier blog of mine to make sure you look after yourself during this tumultuous period: Overcoming the Guilt Felt as a Carer.
More help is available
If you need help transitioning your loved one into residential care and finding a residence best suited to their needs, please feel free to contact me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion.
DR Care Solutions offers 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.