My parent(s) need 24/7 help, so we are considering residential aged care
It’s a big step to realise your parents are no longer capable of caring for themselves. As they age, there’s often a second realisation – possibly initiated by your parents – that their in-home care team can no longer meet their needs. Making the decision to place them in residential aged care isn’t easy. If your parents or older loved ones require around-the-clock care, there are things you can do to start their transition from living independently to living in an aged care facility.
Helping your parents move to aged care is a good way to test whether family roles and responsibilities are defined and well understood by everyone. Those who participated in in-home care might not be the same people who manage the transition.
4 steps to smoothing your parent’s transition into residential aged care
As you begin your search for an aged care facility for your parent, here are four things you can and should do to make the move easy on everyone.
1) Decide who is going to be the key contact or family representative.
Hopefully your parent(s) will have undertaken advanced care planning and discussed their wishes for who will be assisting them as they age. Even so, it’s worth having a family meeting to agree on who will be the main point of contact for residential aged care. Selecting one person ensures service providers aren’t confused about how to communicate with your family.
When Kathy’s mother began showing signs of having trouble managing her day, she was the obvious choice to be the primary contact.
“My brother lives in the country and my sister is interstate,” Kathy said.
2) Determine how decisions are made while your parent is in care.
While the legalities of resident care may be already planned, there are plenty of decisions that will need to be made on behalf of your parent. It might be something as simple as purchasing new clothing, but it could also be larger issues like moving rooms in the care facility. It’s best to have a plan on how your family will make future decisions, even if it requires difficult conversations.
Kathy said starting a WhatsApp group with her siblings was invaluable to ensuring decisions could be easily reached.
“If one sibling hadn’t seen mum for six months, and another one only visited every month, they didn’t see what I was seeing every day,” Kathy said.
“We used WhatsApp to relay things that were happening so that the penny started dropping for all of us in the same way.
“Otherwise, you are all at different stages. Everything seemed fine during a fun visit, but they didn’t see her the moment they left and she crashed into a big hole.”
3) Agree on administrative responsibilities.
Think about sharing administrative tasks like paperwork, making applications, and collecting all the financial information required to move your parent. The transition period can be a good time to rebalance caring responsibilities in your family. If you have siblings that haven’t been able to participate in the day-to-day care of your ageing parent, they might welcome the chance to get involved. Let’s face it, not everyone is cut out for caring duties. Playing to family strengths and weaknesses ensures your loved ones are looked after by the person best suited to the task.
“Anything that is paperwork or administrative stuff I send to my sister,” Kathy said.
4) Appoint a selection team.
When it comes to choosing a residential aged care facility, making a decision can be stressful. During your search for an aged care provider, it’s likely you’ll be considering multiple options. Decide who will make a short list of possible providers with criteria you’ve all agreed on. From the short list, decide which facilities require a site visit and who will do it. The burden doesn’t have to fall to the same person.
TIP: Look after your own mental wellbeing
Making difficult decisions about your parent’s aged care can take a toll. It’s critical to look after your own emotional wellbeing. This is especially true if you’re an only child or are not getting support from other family members. It’s not unusual for people to avoid dealing with the issue of their parent’s mortality. You probably can’t do much about it, but you can protect your own mental health. At a minimum, make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, eating healthily and getting at least 20 minutes of gentle exercise a day. Give yourself a little time each day to do something you enjoy like reading, spending time with a pet, listening to music, doing crafts or meditating.
For more information about residential aged care
If you would like to know more about the residential aged care process, and what you may need to consider, give our Welcome Team a call on 1300 223 968 or email [email protected]