3 years ago

While we spend a significant portion of our lives being looked after by our parents, there comes a time when the roles reverse and it’s time to care for them. Whether your parents or loved ones are living independently or at the point of needing additional support, having a conversation about assisted living options is vital, and one to have sooner, rather than later.

Caring for the elderly: Discussing your options

The first step in navigating this often complicated conversation is discussing the options, what additional support might be required and ensuring all parties involved are on the same page. Start by considering your loved one’s needs and how well they go about daily activities like showering, dressing and generally moving around the house. This will give you an idea on what kind of help they might require.

When discussing the options, it’s important to be gentle. It’s not unusual for a parent or loved one to be in denial about their need for additional care. To avoid them feeling overwhelmed or railroaded, speak to them one-on-one about any concerns you have and your observations of their daily activities. Most importantly, listen to your parent or loved one when discussing options. It’s important they feel like they’re part of the decision-making process. 

Remember that when it comes to aged care support, it’s not all or nothing. That is, there are options in between living at home and being moved into an aged care facility. Referred to as assisted living, there are Government assistance programs designed to provide additional support if your parent or loved one is unable to manage at home on their own. There is also the option of a retirement community, where you are given the freedom to live independently but provided on-site health support. 

The first step in navigating this often complicated conversation is discussing

If you have decided that your parent or loved one is no longer able to manage at home without assistance, there are government-funded aged care services available. Be mindful that there are certain eligibility criteria. If you qualify for funded support, you will be given a face-to-face assessment. This assessment is basically to determine what kind of support you may need. There are two types of assessments: 

  • Regional Assessment Service (RAS): If your assessment shows you simply require low-level support to remain independent in your home, you may be recommended a home support assessment with an RAS assessor. This type of support is provided through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. 
  • Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT): If your assessment shows that you have greater needs than what the Commonwealth Home Support Program can provide, an assessment with an ACAT assessor may be recommended. ACAT can assess you for a range of care options, including Home Care Packages, Short-term care options and Aged care homes.

Making a plan 

It’s better to plan for your parents or loved ones’ future sooner, rather than later, and ideally when they’re healthy and living independently, so there’s no pressure to make quick decisions. Advanced Care Planning is simply the process of planning for future health care, with your parent or loved one choosing what they’d like to happen in the instance they can’t communicate or make decisions. 

Part of this process can be nominating someone to make those health decisions for you – called an enduring guardian. An enduring guardian can be either a trusted relative or friend who manages the health care of a parent or loved one and subsequently becomes the decision maker, if they’re not able to make decisions. It’s important to consider if this might be an option for your parent or loved one and if so, who they would choose. 

Get help with your aged care planning at Beach Street Family Practice. We offer annual medical assessments for all our elderly patients in coordination with their GP. These assessments identify any emerging health issues and conditions and allow us to determine if any additional care assessment is required. To book in for an assessment, call us on 02 6654 1282.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels