How to start the conversation about aged care with mum or dad
For those with ageing parents, it is common for the child to experience role reversal. Soon it is the daughter or son who is checking in on mum or dad, concerned for their welfare and starting difficult conversations about their parents’ care needs.
If you have an ageing parent, you will likely need to start the conversation about the aged care process at some point. Ageing is a natural part of life and it is best to start the conversation sooner, rather than later.
Aged care expert and My Care Path CEO Dana Sawyer, explains how to introduce the aged care conversation, ensure your loved one’s wishes are respected and when to turn to an expert for advice.
To begin the conversation, do NOT ask ‘Do you want to go into aged care?’ – the answer is likely going to be no.
It’s natural for people to have reservations about the ageing process and aged care system, particularly if they don’t understand it and haven’t experienced it before.
The truth is, no one wants to go into aged care – at least initially, and it’s important that we remember aged care is a voluntary system that no one can be forced into.
However, if you have concerns about the wellbeing of your ageing parent and know aged care may be needed now or in the near future, here are some better questions to ask:
- How are you going at home Mum?
- Are you coping with the gardening and cleaning Dad?
- Are you feeling lonely since Mum passed away?
- Do you have a lot of visitors? Or have a neighbour who pops in regularly?
- Would you like some help with the housework?
- What do you think of the idea of being a part of more of a tight-knit community?
These questions will help to naturally elicit how your parent is really coping at home and also may make them more receptive to the aged care help that is out there.
Find out what your options are sooner, rather than later
If you’re seeing signs your mum or dad may need aged care soon, find out what your options are before you need them.
The best way to find out your options, is to speak with an independent aged care consultant who can give you tailored, independent advice.
There will be a plethora of options depending on your parent’s physical health, cognitive health, social networks, finances, ethnic and cultural background and more.
You can also discuss with a consultant what happens in an emergency situation. Mum may be living independently now, but if she has a fall and is admitted into hospital – you may need to make a decision about aged care within a few days.
An aged care consultant can provide options for immediate care as well as potential future care.
Once you have all of the information, you may find it easier to begin that conversation with your parent.
Remember – the ageing process is natural and you don’t need to feel guilty about that
Most of us will hopefully live to an old age, which means the majority of us will need aged care at some point in our lives. For the loved ones around an elderly person, it’s common to experience feelings of guilt about ‘placing mum or dad into aged care.’
The strange thing is we often talk about the health benefits of communal living, so why does that not apply to our elderly? Loneliness is one of the most chronic health issues the elderly face, with the Federal Government committing $10 million to combat the issue in the lead up to the election.
We must remember that aged care doesn’t need to be scary if we can demystify it and understand we all have a real choice in aged care.
Advanced Care Planning Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that provides resources about planning for future care needs.
The website has a section dedicated to family, friends and carers with useful information.
Aged Care Online is Australia’s most comprehensive online directory for aged care providers, including home care, residential, respite, retirement living and more. The directory makes it easy for you to get an understanding of the aged care services in your area.
My Care Path aged care consultants. We are an independent, aged care advisory service with more than 10 years’ experience in the industry. Our consultants are available nationwide.