Getting Started with Aged Care: How to Begin the Conversation with a Family Member
Aged Care |
Starting the conversation with a loved one about the prospect of aged care can often be a difficult proposition, as it may instigate feelings of stress, anxiety, uncertainty and loss of independence.
But while it may not be easy to initiate, it’s imperative to ensure future health and wellbeing — whether you’re seeking support for yourself or your family.
To help, we have put together a step-by-step guide to ensure you feel comfortable and prepared to begin the discussion as you’re getting started with aged care.
Getting started with aged care: Things to consider before you have the conversation
If your loved one is finding it challenging to take care of themselves at home without regular support, and they do not have someone on-hand to assist them with general daily living, it may be time to talk to them about the prospect of aged care and how it could benefit their quality of life.
But before you start the conversation about aged care, there are several things you can do to best prepare. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure you start the dialogue in the best possible way.
Understand when someone may be ready
This is a personal decision. Sometimes a preceding event, like a fall, loss of spouse, or failing health and cognitive decline, will spur the conversation about moving into a residential aged care facility. Perhaps, as your parents age, you’ve noticed them becoming increasingly forgetful, and this has led you to worry about their safety at home.
When it comes time to have this discussion with an older person, understanding and drawing on these moments and experiences, in an appropriate and thoughtful way, can help drive and focus the conversation. It will help you put the challenges around your loved one’s health, old age and future personal care into perspective.
A good place to start is by visiting My Aged Care or calling 1800 200 422. You may also prefer to talk with an aged care expert about local residential options or even look into available home care opportunities.
When facing the prospect of difficult conversations, you should start thinking about any questions or negative comments that may pop up to help you prepare suitable responses and gather information. This will help you confidently speak to any concerns.
Consider local options
When it comes to making aged care decisions, an elderly person who is concerned about losing their ability to live independently may be more open to local options, so that they can stay in their home community. So before you start the conversation about aged care, look into the services available around the suburbs and community your parent resides in.
Starting the aged care conversation
It’s not always easy to initiate the discussion with ageing parents or other loved ones about their health and potential aged care needs, as their initial response may be feeling like they’re being forced from their own home or losing control of their life.
Conversely, as a loved one, you may feel guilty and want to avoid or drop the conversation as feelings of sadness creep in. First things first – take heart that once the conversation begins, it does get easier.
Below are eight tips to help you start the conversation and ensure you’ve given you and your parents the best possible opportunity to come to a shared, positive outcome.
1) Begin the discussion early
This gives you and your loved one the opportunity to engage in a series of discussions to make the best, mutually-agreed decision regarding their future care and support needs. Often, discussions are at their most difficult when they are rushed, amidst pressure and stress – for example, instances where aged care hadn’t been considered or discussed previously.
2) Be strategic about when you initiate discussion
Ensure your loved one is in a good mood and prepared to chat. Also think about their surroundings at this time. It’s amazing how effective a relaxed and comfortable setting can be to get the conversation started on a positive note.
3) Involve friends and family
It’s a good idea to involve other family members to give them the opportunity to also be involved in the decision-making process and prepare for next steps. Similarly, you may want to draw on close, trusted friends, to lend their support while getting started with aged care.
4) Be understanding and practise active listening
Respect your loved one’s thoughts and feelings around the aged care process and their right to make their own choices. Try to look at the discussion from their perspective of your parent, and acknowledge any concerns. It’s important you don’t act dismissively.
5) Draw on your research and talk to the benefits of aged care
If possible, tailor the conversation around an individual’s own needs and preferences, in a positive way. This may include speaking to the care opportunities available.
6) Suggest they conduct their own research, potentially in their own time
If appropriate, encourage and empower your parents to learn more about aged care options, including the available residential facilities — or even home care opportunities — and why it may be time for them to pursue a change.
This could include drawing on the experiences of people they trust, including friends and family going through similar experiences and changes, as well as researching online.
7) Be prepared to engage health experts for added support
Particularly if your parent displays feelings of stress and anxiety, they may feel more comfortable talking with a health professional, like their family doctor. Often, advice from a trusted healthcare worker is all that is needed by older people to open their mind to the prospect of a change.
8) Consider local aged care providers for a tour
Here at Respect, we often suggest those thinking about the prospect of aged care, including their families, take up the opportunity to speak with one of our representatives or take a tour of the Respect aged care facility of their choice.
Most times, seeing a place firsthand and speaking to our staff and residents can make a world of difference.
During a tour, you’ll see that residents feel right at home. You and your parents will gain peace of mind knowing that we provide a safe environment surrounded by friendly staff. Residents come and go as they please, barring any safety concerns, and there’s always something to do and activities and programs to engage with.
After settling into residential aged care, most people feel like a weight has been lifted, as they become even more independent and confident in their surroundings.
Take the next step
As we age, there are various stages in our lives when it’s simply time for a change. When you’re getting started with aged care, or simply ready to discuss it, so is Respect. With a sweeping portfolio of communities, we offer services to accommodate every lifestyle, from active retirees to those who need a little daily assistance to older people who require a high level of care.
To find out more about Respect’s Aged Care homes, click here.
Our focus is on giving back to older Australians and their families by fostering communities of belonging. Our philosophy is that everyone deserves the right to a life well-lived, with dignity and respect.
If you have got questions or like to receive more support, please reach us via our contact page or call us on 1300 144 144. We’re here to help.
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