Let’s face it, talking about aged care with a loved one is not a conversation anyone looks forward to. In fact, it is something we may even dread. Choosing aged care is not an easy decision and it can often be difficult to admit when it may be time to consider aged care.
At Aged Care Decisions, we understand the complexity of these tough conversations and the decisions that need to be made. It’s why we do what we do – supporting families through the decision-making process. Our primary goal is to bring comfort to people by empowering them in their residential aged care experience – through helping them easily find aged care vacancies and navigate the aged care process.
To help you be more prepared about when, how and why to talk about aged care, we have put together a guide to starting the aged care conversation.
How can I approach the subject of aged care?
After the age of 65, your loved one may be eligible to receive financial assistance from the government to pay for aged care.
In order to access this financial assistance, you will need an Aged Care Assessment. In order to start this process, you can go to My Aged Care and fill out the assessment request form. Alternatively, you could call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 and organise an assessment over the phone.
If your loved one can no longer take care of themselves at home anymore without regular support, and you are unable to help them with general daily living, then it may be time to think about starting the conversation about aged care.
Looking for expert advice?
Talk to one of our aged care specialists
How to start planning to have the conversation
Who will lead the process?
The first thing to consider when approaching the topic of the aged care conversation is who should be the primary point of contact. Talk to the whole family and work out who should be the primary representative for your loved one, if or when it is required. If there is someone in the family who is already the Power of Attorney or Enduring Guardian, it is best for them to be the primary contact.
If you want to make the decision as a family, then that works too but there should always be one central point of contact. This person can fill in forms, have the important phone discussions and take your loved one to face to face appointments.
What do I do if my loved one needs urgent care?
In many cases, the timing of this discussion may be completely out of your control. Every situation is different but it’s very common for circumstances to change without notice.
If medical or mobility needs suddenly change, you may be left with no choice other than to find urgent care for your loved one. This can unfortunately put you and your family into a high stress ‘crisis’ mode.
These are usually the most difficult conversations because they are done under a great deal of pressure and stress. It’s especially more difficult when the family hasn’t considered aged care options previously and is being exposed to the world of aged care for the first time. Overwhelming is an understatement.
Starting the conversation early means you can receive support from a range of services such as health care workers, social workers, government staff, aged care facility staff and external independent agencies such as us – Aged Care Decisions.
To make it easier, elect one family member as the primary point of contact for your loved one and the whole family. Ensure that you know the financial situation and health situation before starting the process.
Why you should plan for the future
Being prepared for the possibility of aged care will benefit the whole family. Having the conversation as early as possible and with as much support as possible, will help reduce stress at a time that is usually quite difficult.
This is where an independent and free support service like Aged Care Decisions can help. Aged Care Decisions can talk you through the different aged care topics and help you understand your options.
If it’s still a while away before you think your loved one needs to go into aged care, then it’s still important to know what you’re doing and be semi-prepared.
What are the signs my loved one may need aged care?
Age is a factor – once they are nearing the age of 80, it’s possibly time to start thinking about the next steps. Keep in mind, not everyone does need aged care, but it is important that at this age you start to have a closer look at how well your elderly loved one can look after themselves.
Health – once your loved one’s health starts to decline and they need someone to regularly attend to their needs, it is usually a sign they could benefit from some extra care. Some examples of declining health could be difficulties moving around (risk of falling), incontinence problems, wandering behaviour and difficulties in thinking, planning and remembering.
Ability to care for themselves – ask yourself if your loved one is able to do house chores, cook meals, gardening, shower themselves and carry out general living requirements on their own.
Questions you can ask to get the conversation started
If you believe it may be time to start the conversation about aged care, here are some questions to help you get a bit more of an understanding about your loved ones thoughts and/or concerns.
- What do you think we should do if you get to an age where you can’t look after yourself anymore?
- Do you see yourself ever moving into an aged care facility? At what stage do you think you may need to go to an aged care facility?
- Does anything worry you about going to an aged care facility?
- How can we support you in making this decision?
When is the right time to move into aged care?
Once you have figured out when to have the conversation, and who will lead that conversation, you need to decide when the time is right for your loved one to get help at home or leave their home to go to an aged care facility.
Aged Care Decisions is Australia’s largest aged care placement and support service and can help families find aged care when the time is right. We often recommend to families to start looking at aged care options about 3 months before you are actually wanting them to move into an aged care facility.
Aged Care Decisions supports thousands of families a month with a free and independent service – empowering families with information, advice and options at all stages in the aged care placement journey. Our trained Placement Specialists are expert at assisting families have the conversation about entering aged care and taking the first steps with an Aged Care Assessment.
If you or a loved one needs assistance with finding aged care, fill out this form or give us a call on 1300 775 870.