The best indicator that it is time to move into aged care is when your loved one is unable to take care of themselves or receive an adequate level of support at home. This could also be when you start worrying about their health and wellbeing, either physically or emotionally.
Ideally, both you and your loved one should feel ready and be adequately prepared for this major transition. However, that may not always happen, as many people do end up moving into an aged care facility after an emergency at home or a hospital stay.
Whatever the reason for moving into aged care, it is important to have the assistance of professionals who can offer information, help explore options and even be there for emotional support.
The Aged Care Decisions team is here to support you and your loved one through their aged care journey. We work with over 1200 aged care facilities and can provide you with the information you need to make a smooth transition. If you have any questions about aged care and how to choose a provider, call us for a chat on 1300 775 870. You can also register via our online form and one of our specialists will be in touch.
How supported your loved one feels at home
There will come a time when you will have to seriously consider moving your loved one into an aged care facility. Often, moving to an aged care facility becomes necessary when your loved one’s needs and level of care increases, and it is no longer feasible to rely on neighbours, family and friends.
Some tasks that your loved one will begin to need more support for at home include:
- Access to equipment, medication or specialist care
- General household maintenance and chores
- Shopping for groceries and cooking meals
- Social interaction through community activities and outings
- Everyday tasks such as dressing, showering and going to the toilet
Your loved one will also need more secure and protective care if they have dementia and are prone to wander or unknowingly harm themselves.
What are the physical signs that your loved one is ready to move into aged care?
Most physical signs of aged-care readiness will be related to how concerned you are about your loved one’s health and safety.
If they are unable to move around their own home easily or comfortably or are showing signs of extreme fatigue after performing activities that are not meant to be strenuous, your loved one probably needs specialised care at an aged care facility.
There are also other less obvious physical signs that your loved one is ready to move into aged care, including increased trips and falls and a decrease in personal grooming and household chores.
Trips and falls
Our balance tends to suffer as we grow older, which can cause us to stumble, trip or fall more frequently. The problem is that near misses or falls after a certain age can be extremely devastating and debilitating for your loved one.
If your loved one is missing showers, has regularly unwashed hair or is consistently wearing soiled or dirty clothes, it could be a sign that they are unable to look after themselves.
Similar to personal grooming, if your loved one is starting to live in an increasingly dirty and disorganised house with dishes piled up and regular household chores undone, they may require more help than they are letting on.
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What are the mental and emotional signs of readiness?
Signs that your loved one is ready to move into aged care extends beyond what they can physically do. It is important to take into account their mental and emotional wellbeing as well. The following are some mental and emotional signs of readiness.
Lapses in memory
This can have serious consequences if your loved one is forgetting to take their medication or, even worse, has forgotten to do things such as turn the stove off. They may also be unable to perform simple tasks that they have previously done with ease their whole lives.
Depression or isolation
If you notice that your loved one is experiencing a decrease in social activity — either in pursuing their normal interests or catching up with friends — it could be a sign they are not coping with performing these activities.
How to start a conversation about aged care facilities
It’s a good idea to start a conversation about aged care facilities as simply wanting to put a plan in place for when your loved one requires more support. You can assure them that making the plan doesn’t mean it will be needed; it is simply about being prepared and having peace of mind for if it becomes inevitable.
It is best to have the conversation with your loved one alone and not in the presence of a large number of family members. Be calm and respectful as you share your honest thoughts and opinions. Be prepared to be open and vulnerable and avoid any negative or accusatory language.
Make sure you give them the opportunity to share how they feel as well, so that they know they are still in control. If possible, gently guide them into deciding to move into aged care themselves. It is a far better if they feel a part of the decision.
If they are open to the idea, you could organise respite care for your loved one, so they can try it and find out what it is like to be in an aged care facility without making a long-term commitment immediately.
What are the next steps?
One of the best ways to ensure a smooth transition to aged care is to include your loved one in the decision-making process. This can include showing them a shortlist of possible aged care facilities and bringing them on a tour.
This is also a good time to arrange an assessment from the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). The ACAT assessment will help you to find out what level of care your loved one needs.
Once your loved one has decided on an aged care facility and you’ve made an application, you’ll need to inform some key people that your loved one is moving. These people include:
- Health professionals
- Government departments and authorities
- Insurance providers
- Bank and superannuation
- Legal representatives
- Any other people you may inform if you are moving house
Consider your loved one’s financial position and how you will pay for aged care. Keep in mind that whatever financial decisions you make can have an impact on your loved one’s aged care fee structure and the amount of government benefits they receive. You will also need to decide on what to do with the family home after your loved one moves out.
This is also when you and your loved one should start decluttering and minimising personal possessions. Most aged care facilities will only allow your loved one to bring a limited quantity of small, treasured items.
Aged Care Decisions can help you make informed decisions about your aged care journey. Our specialist placement team can answer all your questions about which aged care provider best suits your needs and help you navigate assessments, fee structures and application requirements. Complete our quick and easy form or call us on 1300 775 870.