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Caring for someone in an aged care home can be a challenging and emotional experience, but it’s important to remember that you still have an essential role to play in supporting your loved one’s care.
Here are some key points to consider to help you feel more confident in your decision and stay involved in their care:
- Start planning early: As Geriatricians will often highlight, independent living by the elderly inherently brings greater risks, particularly with falls. If an accident leads to an emergency visit to a hospital, decisions regarding future care, accommodation or assistance will often be rushed as hospitals are unable to have beds occupied for extended periods so need to discharge patients as quickly as possible. The advice is to plan before these risks escalate, ideally discuss with family members and consider the preferred options when time allows for rational thinking.
- Signs your loved one will benefit from living in an aged care home: If your loved one is facing considerable mobility challenges, severe incontinence issues, problematic behaviour like wandering or getting lost, serious communication concerns, or problems with planning, remembering, and thinking, moving them to an assisted living facility may be the best option for their overall well-being.
- Growing doubts: It’s natural to have doubts and concerns about your decision. You may worry about whether your loved one will receive the attention they need, if people will assume you abandoned them, or if you could have done more to prevent this situation. It’s important to be realistic and make decisions based on what is best for everyone involved, including yourself.
- Coping with emotions: Seek support from someone who will listen to you without judgment. Managing your own emotions is crucial, and it may be helpful to explore counselling or support groups specifically for carers. These resources can provide guidance and a safe space to express your feelings.
- Stay involved: Even after your loved one moves into an aged care home, you can still actively participate in their care. Recognise that you are an essential member of the care team, working alongside medical experts. Here are some ways to stay involved:
- Familiarise yourself with the names and roles of the other members of the care team.
- Take notes during discussions or meetings, or bring someone along to help you remember important details.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek clarification about your loved one’s care.
- Maintain a list of your loved one’s health concerns and share them with the care team.
- Ensure accurate documentation of diagnoses, medications, and any changes in their condition.
Remember, your presence and involvement are valuable and can greatly contribute to the overall care and well-being of your loved one. Take pride in the role you play and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance when needed.
If a loved one has moved into an aged care home, where possible decorate the room with such things as familiar photos or paintings. These comforts of home and memories lessen the sense of being deserted.
Use video technology to maintain contact with family members. Devices such as an iPad and associated applications e.g. FaceTime or WhatsApp are great ways to keep in touch.
Regular outings – most aged care homes welcome and promote family members and friends taking a resident out for excursions, such as walks, morning or afternoon teas. Besides providing another form of regular exercise it reduces the feeling that the resident is in a ‘prison’ and limited to the confines of the aged care home
If this article has inspired you to think about your own unique situation and, more importantly, what you and your family are going through right now, please contact us for further insights and guidance.