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How to talk to parents about Aged Care

No matter how old we get, we are still our parents’ children, and discussing difficult topics can be fraught with emotion. One such topic is making decisions with your parents about their care needs as they age. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your parents are slowing down, or can’t manage around the home like they used to. Or maybe you like to plan ahead to avoid hasty decisions down the track. Whatever the situation, talking to your parents about Aged Care can be a tricky topic to navigate. Here are some tips on how to start the conversation.

TriCare Aged Care - talk to parents about Aged Care blog

Raise the topic early

No one likes to think about a future time when they might not be able to manage living completely independent, but when it comes to talking Aged Care, it pays to start the conversation early and continue it often. Leaving questions about Aged Care preferences until the last minute is likely to result in ill-informed decisions, a lack of options, and emotional distress for everyone involved. Broaching the subject may be as simple as asking your parent to think about what they would like their life to look like, in the event they can’t manage on their own. Do they have a preference for where or how they would like to live? Who do they want to be responsible for their financial and other affairs? Raising the topic before it’s needed is also a good way to gauge how resistant your parent may be to the idea of needing more help in the future.

Listen for their needs

Once you have started the conversation, it’s vital that you listen to your parents’ preferences. If they have raised concerns about Aged Care, take note of these and work together to find more information to allay them. Many seniors fear a move to residential Aged Care will mean the end of their independence and a loss of meaningful contribution to life. Engaging home care and other support options also bring up their own set of concerns. These fears need to be addressed honestly in order for a move to be successful and comfortable. Keep the channels of communication open by acknowledging what’s important from your parents’ perspective.

Explore the options

The options available for Aged Care services are as different as the people who use them, so it’s important to explore the options that will best suit your parent’s needs. Do they want to remain in their local community or are they looking for a change? What sort of lifestyle and activities are important to them? Are they able to have visitors or take trips away with family? Do they know anyone who has made the move to an Aged Care residence? What was their experience? These sorts of questions about Aged Care services will help you and your parents focus on finding the right fit and ensure a smooth transition when the time comes.

Get expert help

Navigating Aged Care options can seem overwhelming, so it pays to consult the experts. Have your parents talk to their GP about what their needs might be in the future. GPs and specialists can recommend services and even specific providers that they have previously had great experiences with for their other patients.

Explore the My Aged Care website to find out about the ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) assessment. This assessment verifies your parents’ needs, notes what services could help them, and determines whether they are eligible for subsidised Aged Care.

Contact or visit Aged Care residences in your area to see what’s on offer. Most residential Aged Care providers are happy to provide a tour of their facility and can be helpful in answering questions you may have around what residential Aged Care offers.

Consider engaging a financial advisor with expertise on the Aged Care sector, to explain the costs and requirements associated with Aged Care services.

Forewarned is forearmed, and the more outside help you can draw on, the more options and information you and your parents will have at your disposal to make the best decisions about your parents’ future care.

Maintain the dignity

Provided your parent is not experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline, they are capable of making their own decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. They may be resistant to the idea of moving out of the family home or even receiving home care support. While reluctance to have the conversation can be a difficult situation to navigate with your parents, it’s important that you can still inform while not imposing on their boundaries. It might be that you can provide them a brochure or put them in touch with someone you know that has gone through this process. If action is not urgently needed, providing them the information to review and consider in their own time maintains their dignity through a challenging transition time. Go gently, be aware of your own need for emotional support, and accept it if they are not yet ready to broach the topic. If this is difficult for you, check the Carer Gateway for support and resources in your area.

The key takeaway for talking Aged Care with your parents is to start early and check in regularly as circumstances change. Take note of your parents’ preferences and explore together, if possible, the services and providers that will be the best fit for their needs.  TriCare understand that choosing the right Aged Care provider is a big decision, so we have a team of Aged Care Specialists to help guide you through the process. Book a Free Consultation with our team today.

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