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How to prepare an ageing parent for Aged Care

Navigating the path of Aged Care for your ageing parent can come with a lot of feelings, both for you and for your parent. It’s a delicate dance of respecting their autonomy, understanding their needs, and ensuring they get the necessary care to thrive. If you’ve been caring for an elderly parent, introducing the concept of an Aged Care Residence (sometimes called an Aged Care Facility or Aged Care Home) can be a challenging, but ultimately helpful, step to take. 

How do I know it’s time for Aged Care services?

Recognising the signs that your senior parent might need additional support is the first step. Some of the indicators that they might benefit from Aged Care services include:

  • Decreased mobility: Difficulty moving around the house, struggling to get in and out of chairs, or having frequent falls.
  • Memory loss: Noticeable decline in memory, especially short-term memory, leading to forgotten appointments, medications, or repeated conversations.
  • Neglected home maintenance: The house is noticeably dirtier or more cluttered than usual, and routine chores are being neglected.
  • Changes in hygiene: A noticeable decline in personal hygiene, including infrequent bathing or unwashed clothes.
  • Social withdrawal: Losing interest in social activities, hobbies, or spending time with friends and family.
  • Decreased safety awareness: Leaving the stove on, forgetting to lock doors, or engaging in other unsafe practices.
  • Mismanagement of finances: Unpaid bills, overdrawn accounts, or unusual spending patterns.
  • Changes in eating habits: Significant weight loss or gain, or a lack of fresh food in the house.
  • Difficulty managing medications: Missing doses, taking incorrect amounts, or confusion about what each medication is for.
  • Increased irritability or mood swings: Noticeable changes in mood, increased frustration, or episodes of anger or sadness.
  • Frequent hospital visits: Increased visits to the doctor or hospital, or experiencing more falls or accidents at home.
  • Feeling overwhelmed: Expressing feelings of finding daily tasks, maintenance, or personal care stressful or too much.

If you see some of these signs in your ageing parents, it could be time to take a proactive approach in seeking some support and care.

Aged Care mother and daughter hugging

How to start the conversation with your ageing parent

Initiating a conversation about Aged Care services requires tact, empathy, and respect. Start by expressing your love and concern, making it clear that this is about ensuring their wellbeing. Encourage your parent to share their thoughts and feelings about their current living situation and their future. Be patient and listen attentively, validating their feelings while also sharing your perspective and concerns. It might not all get resolved in one conversation, and that’s okay. The key is to keep the lines of communication open.

Approaching the conversation with sensitivity, empathy, and a collaborative spirit can pave the way for a smoother transition and ensure that your parent feels supported and valued throughout the process. These do’s and don’ts may help.

Do’s and don’ts

Choose the right time and setting: Find a quiet, comfortable space to talk, and make sure you have enough time for a thorough discussion without feeling rushed.Be patronising: Avoid talking down to your parent or making them feel like they’re not capable of making their own decisions.
Express your concerns gently: Start by sharing your love and concern, focusing on specific observations that have led you to believe they might need additional support.Make assumptions: Don’t assume you know what’s best for them without their input. Ensure their voice is heard and their preferences are taken into account.
Involve them in the decision: Make it clear that this is a joint decision. Ask about their preferences and priorities for their living situation and care.Avoid the topic: While it may be a difficult conversation, avoiding it can lead to greater issues in the long run. It’s important to address the subject head-on.
Be informed: Before initiating the conversation, do some research on Aged Care facility options so that you can answer questions and provide information as needed.Rush the conversation: Don’t try to cover everything in one go if it’s not going well. If needed, take a break and come back to the conversation later.
Show empathy and understanding: Acknowledge that this is a significant transition and it may bring up a range of emotions. Be patient and give them time to process and share their feelings.Focus only on the negative: While it’s important to address the challenges and concerns, also highlight the positive aspects of Aged Care services, such as increased support, community, and activities.
Dowload and print this table of tips to have on hand when you need it by clicking the button below.
Aged Care mother and daughter

What if my parent doesn’t want to go into an Aged Care Residence?

Resistance is a natural response to a big change like this; no one wants to feel like they’re losing their independence. If your parent is apprehensive about moving into an Aged Care Residence, it might help to discuss the option of temporary Respite Care. This allows them to stay in an Aged Care facility for a short period, giving them the chance to experience the benefits without making a long-term commitment. It can be an excellent way to ease into the transition and alleviate any fears or misconceptions they may have.

It’s also important to think of this as the start of a conversation, not the only conversation you will have. Express your care and concern for your parent, and explain why you think an Aged Care facility is a good choice, and perhaps agree to come back to the conversation in a few months. 

How to start the process

If your parent is interested in looking into Aged Care (whether it be home care or residential care), the first step is to arrange an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessment. This free service evaluates your parent’s needs and eligibility for government-subsidised Aged Care services. 

To arrange an assessment, you can contact My Aged Care – the Australian government’s starting point for Aged Care services. The TriCare Client Services Specialist team are also happy to talk you through the process if you have any questions or concerns. You can contact them on 1300 TRICARE (874 2273).

During the ACAT assessment, a team of healthcare professionals will meet with your parent to understand their needs and capabilities (you can be there to support them). It’s important to be honest and open during this assessmen, so that your parent receives the appropriate level of care. Following the assessment, you’ll receive a report detailing the services your parent is eligible for and advice on the next steps to take.

You can read more about the ACAT assessment process here

Aged Care mother and daughter

What to look for in Aged Care Residences

While you’re waiting for your ACAT assessment, it’s a good opportunity to book a tour of some Aged Care Residences. Pay attention to how staff interact with residents, the cleanliness of the facility, and the range of activities available. Talk to the management about care plans, and ensure they can cater to your parent’s specific needs, both now and in the future.

You can book a tour of TriCare’s Aged Care Residences from our website

Once you have your assessment, you can arrange your parent’s booking at your chosen Aged Care Residence. Remember, it’s important to involve your parent in this process as much as possible. After all, this is about finding a place where they feel comfortable, safe, and engaged. 

While the transition to Aged Care can be fraught with emotion and challenges, it’s a positive step towards ensuring your parent receives the care and support they need. It’s about providing them with a safe environment, tailored to their needs, where they can thrive in their later years. 

This is a journey, and it’s okay to feel uncertain or overwhelmed at times. But, by approaching it with empathy, respect, and a focus on your parent’s wellbeing, you can navigate this transition together, ensuring they have the support they need to live their best life. Remember, you’re not alone; there are resources and professionals available to help guide you through this process, ensuring your parent receives the highest quality care tailored to their needs.

Want to learn more about Aged Care and how we can help? Download our free Aged Care Guide below.