Is it time?
Helping your loved one make the move and settle into residential aged care.
Relocating a loved one into an aged care home can be difficult, especially when they are getting on in years. There is often a catch-22 situation of a person not needing residential care but being open to talking about it, then progressing to actually needing care but being very resistant for a number of different reasons.
In an ideal world, you and your loved one will work out a plan and select an aged care home before the need arises. The whole family will be on board and supportive, so the process is smooth for everyone involved.
Here are some ways to ensure your loved one feels more comfortable in the leadup to transitioning to aged care and after they relocate.
Before the move: Explain the benefits
Relocating to an aged care home can feel daunting even though it is in the best interest for everyone involved. When someone moves into aged care, they benefit from security, comfort and round-the-clock support. The change gives families peace of mind, especially if they live a long distance from their loved one’s home.
If your loved one is apprehensive about the change, spend some time going through the benefits of living in a place that offers full-time support.
- Medical care: Being in an aged care facility means your loved one’s health is regularly and comprehensively monitored. They need not worry about sudden illness or falls and accidents. On-site nurses will take care of all their needs, while doctors and other allied health professionals make regular visits so there is no need to travel to appointments.
- Personal care: Personal grooming, bathing and other ablution needs will all be taken care of at an aged care facility. Those basic necessities that become more difficult as your loved one ages need not be a worry. This ties into personal hygiene; there is less risk of an ‘accident’ being unattended to.
- Professional support: Your loved one may feel more comfortable on their own or with a family member looking after them but not everyone knows what to do in the case of an emergency. At an aged care home, the staff are trained, and help is never far away.
- Easy maintenance: Aged care residents are free from the tediousness of housework and home maintenance. Chores like cleaning and laundry are all taken care of by the facility. This can bring enormous peace of mind to older people who find housework overwhelming; and for family members who have been attempting to compensate for this.
- Social opportunities: Aged care homes are communities in themselves and residents are encouraged to socialise and spend time with others. There are organised events and theme nights, and all sorts of things to keep residents’ minds as healthy as their bodies.
- Regular therapy: Medical attention is more than doctors and nurses. Aged care home residents look forward to regular visits from music and art therapists as well as occupational therapists and other allied health professionals.
- Progressive care: An aged care home has the capacity to care for your loved one as their mobility and faculties decline. Progressively increasing needs are met sooner; which reduces the risk of a fall or treatable health issue going unnoticed.
- Flexibility: Depending on your budget, in many aged care facilities it is possible to add creature comforts and additional services to your aged care plan. Specialised meals, Foxtel, nightly wine, and other perks may be available.
For a more in-depth look at the benefits of aged care, take a look at our article here.
Giving your loved one a sense of control will help make the idea less stressful. If you can, have a look at some different options together. Allowing them to choose where they go (if that’s possible) may make the change more appealing.
If you would like to discuss which aged care facilities might meet your needs, budget and preferences, Aged Care Decisions can help. Call us on 1300 775 870 or reach out through our online form.
When you arrive: Settling into an aged care facility
Many aged care facilities offer completely private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Residents are encouraged to bring personal belongings and can choose which activities they participate in.
To help your loved one settle in, visit the facility a few times before moving day. Meet the staff and get to know their names so they begin to feel like friends.
Your loved one can pack their clothing as well as photos and trinkets. Encourage them to bring their favourite cup, bedspread and cushions. This will help them settle in sooner and feel like they are at home.
If you have the luxury of time before placement becomes urgent, and if your loved one is eligible, you may want to book respite care at the facility. This will introduce them to the surroundings and staff for a short period of time so they can get a feel for how things work. Your loved one will be eligible for respite care if you usually look after them and have to go away, or if they are unwell, and is approved during their ACAT assessment. Having experienced a facility on respite, means they are more comfortable and know what to expect when it comes time to move in permanently.
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Overcoming reluctance to relocate
Start making a plan early
The earlier you talk about aged care, the better. Talk to your loved one and start making plans so you don’t find yourself in a panic when things become urgent. Talk to them about their fears and their hopes and see what will work for them. If you have had the discussions early on, when the time comes, your loved one will be happier to make the switch. They will already know the benefits and understand the reasons for making the move. There will also be fewer decisions to make. Let them know that the goal is to keep their quality of life as high as possible for as long as possible.
The other reason to seek an aged care solution before you need it is that many quality facilities do have waiting lists. There can also be a process to request an assessment from an ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) and ensure your loved one does qualify for this living arrangement.
If you make plans in advance, you won’t find your parent or loved one in need of care but unable to access it quickly.
Have discussions with experts
Seek professional advice. Ask your loved one’s GP their opinion of the aged care option. Odds are they will be supportive. Hearing a professional express the benefits of aged care can do wonders to set your loved one’s mind at ease.
If you are really struggling, you can always seek counselling advice. A counsellor might be able to work through the issues that are holding your loved one back from making the move.
It is also wise to talk to experts in the field. If you or a loved one would like to discuss available services and how they might meet your needs, the Aged Care Decisions team can help. Call us on 1300 775 870 or reach out through our online form.
Talk about what it will be like
Spend lots of time talking about aged care and what it will be like. Ask your loved ones how they think it will be. Talk through their fears and trepidations and dispel any misconceptions they may be harbouring.
You might enjoy some thought experiments like talking through what a day in aged care might be like. Compare it to what their life is like now, and they will soon see how many of their struggles will be eradicated while much of what makes them happy will be retained.
Put their mind at ease
The best way to put your loved one’s mind at ease is to familiarise them with everything about their chosen aged care home. Take a tour of the facility. Learn about the food that will be available, what the frequent activities are, and when are visiting hours. Talk to the staff and get to know them. Whatever you can do to make the transition into aged care as seamless as possible.
Visit regularly in the early days
Don’t be a stranger after your loved one moves into aged care. Visit as often as you can, especially in the early days. Your presence will help them to feel at home and ease the transition. Before long, the idea of their new living space will be normalised. All going well; after a while, they will be busy with events and activities and therefore not so dependant on your visits.
However, depending on the resident, sometimes visiting too regularly can prevent them from integrating into their new social environment. Talk to the staff, and they will let you know if your loved one is declining social activities in order to wait for your visit.
Just because a senior moves into aged care doesn’t mean they can never go out again. Organise day trips and outings so they can still feel connected to the places they enjoy. Take them to visit other family members, head to the movies, go shopping, or to the park, whatever your loved one will enjoy. It will help them to know that an aged care home is not a prison.
Putting it together
Overall, the most important things are to talk early and openly and involve your loved one in the process. Let them feel that they are in control and let them make all the important decisions. If you sow the seeds early enough, there is no reason your loved one won’t see the benefits of residential aged care.
Aged Care Decisions provides assistance to families at every stage of the aged care or home care journey. We work with over 1200 facilities and assist over 6000 families every month, 100% free of charge.