At-home versus aged care
It’s a thought we try to push to the back of our minds. It’s the realisation we don’t want to have. Our parents have gotten older, frailer, and need help. Now, if we’re so uncomfortable about the notion, imagine how they feel? Perhaps they’re now alone and find it hard to do even the simplest of tasks such as making a cuppa or going to the supermarket?
From any perspective, aged care is a difficult and emotional conversation to have. However, there are options out there to suit every situation. We take a look at the differences between in-home care and aged care facilities.
Aged care facility
Aged care facility, nursing home, or residential care facility – they’re pretty much the same thing. Traditionally, they’ve always been the option when it becomes too difficult to care for the person at home, whether this is because of the carer’s own health and family life, or the patient’s need for 24-hour care and supervision. In fact, there are a number of circumstances which lead to putting mum and dad (or your grandparents) into an aged care facility:
- Your parents still live together but one is sick and that’s affecting the health of the other
- When incontinence, mobility or personal hygiene are becoming too difficult to manage
- Onset dementia can mean the parent becomes aggressive or prone to wandering and this can become unsafe for both the patient and carer
- When you start to fear for their safety if they’re left alone due to loss of capacity, judgement and memory loss
- When the amount of medication needed becomes difficult to manage
- When they’ve become depressed, socially isolated and malnourished
Whatever the reason, the decision is a difficult one. After all, by placing them into a nursing home you’ll be taking away their independence and familiarity with their surroundings. However, it may be the only option – you need to take care of your own safety and wellbeing as well.
The good news is that nursing homes have come a long way since the grey, depressing places of the 70s. They are often extremely well designed with comfort and security at the forefront. They can also offer lots of safe activities through social programs, to ensure their patients remain active and engaged. However, this will never be as engaging or undisruptive as continuing their routines with their own social network.
Aged care facilities are excellent options for patients who are highly dependent and require 24-hour specialist care.
When circumstances allow, this can be the less disruptive option. It allows the elderly person to stay in their own home. In the less serious cases, they’re able to retain their independence, surrounded by their personal possessions. When reality as you know it’s in question, these can be important anchor points which allow the person to remember who they are. To remember they’re safe and they’re loved.
At home care ranges from occasional care to total care. They can even provide short-term care for those who have just returned from hospital. Traditionally, as soon as a patient needed round-the-clock care, a nursing home would have seemed the better option. However, nowadays the total care packages offered by at home care services are fantastic. Providing the patient isn’t a risk to themselves or others, it’s the less disruptive option. After all, the patient can just carry on as normal, with a new companion to help them along the way.
Emotional wellbeing is extremely important when choosing the right care for you or your parents. In fact, loneliness is a major health risk for the elderly. At home care means there’s no major life change and no major change in their environment – unlike moving into an aged care facility, which can be extremely traumatic for some patients. It just involves a small adjustment while they get used to the carer being in their home and assisting them with daily life.
Making the right decision
There is no blanketed right or wrong answer as life is never black and white. It always come down to your individual needs or circumstances. Just try to be understanding of how your parents are feeling and how scary this may be for them. Seek as much help and advice as you can to ensure you’re getting the care you all need.
You can also check out the Federal Government’s My Aged Care website, which includes a special section about financing aged care. Whether it’s basic advice on financial planning, or what you need to think about if you’re considering a reverse mortgage, it’s a great source of information.