How to better plan for aged care
Life is brimming with many major events, occasions and milestones planned for well ahead of time. It’s interesting however, how we avoid planning for life’s biggest and most inevitable event; ageing.
We plan for weddings, holidays and babies, scouring the internet for the cheapest deals or scrolling through Pinterest for creative ideas but very few of us utilise easily accessible resources and plan ahead when it comes to ageing.
My experience working in the industry has sadly shown that a lack of forward planning can lead to unfulfilled wishes, anxiety and stress in families", said Sandra Hills, CEO Benetas
Here are the top three tips to keep in mind when planning for aged care:
- Do your homework
Researching the aged care industry and knowing your choices as you age is crucial. Ageing is no different to any other major decision that you make throughout the course of your life (and this one will be life changing). Government sees itself as having responsibility, alongside providers, for your ageing journey. But to tell you the truth, the decision will ultimately sit with you and your family.
Take some time to think about what a “quality experience of ageing” would look like for you. This will help to determine what you want and don’t want in regards to support services. If you are receiving government funded services, make yourself familiar with what the standards of care look like, how they are measured and where to go if you are not happy. In short, you or a trusted friend or family member are your best advocate.
If you’re unsure where to start, the MyAgedCare website (https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/) is a great place to begin.
- Take a holistic approach to ageing
Regardless of how much you spend on medications, supplements, special foods, treatments or exercise, you are not ‘immortal’
Denial of ageing and death is not your friend, both are inevitable. The ageing life cycle is a natural occurrence, much like the development of a child. Fearing ‘the end’ can make you more complacent about what choices you make as you age. Research shows that a holistic approach to ageing is preferable.
How quickly we age depends on a number of factors; such as genetics, lifestyle, birthplace, chronic conditions, occupations, socio economic status and luck.
All aspects can determine your experience of ageing and each can have a differing effect on your deterioration and health. When planning for aged care give ample consideration to each of the above factors. Not all factors may be of equal importance but they should be considered cohesively to increase effectiveness, enabling you or your loved one to age well.
- How can you give staying at home the best chance?
Your chance of staying at home longer and ageing within the comfort of your own home increases when there is thought given to what a “positive ageing experience” means to you. Decide on a living environment that you would accept and enjoy whilst ageing, e.g. staying in your own home, moving in with family, moving to a retirement village or supported apartment or living independently near family or friends. Mull over your options and the support available to you, would you accept assistance in the form of a paid carer?
What about accepting support from a family member, neighbour or friends?
For some, having ‘others’ in the family home can be stressful, upsetting, and can impose on privacy. Accepting that you ‘need help’ may be a challenge within itself. These can be difficult issues to come to terms with but must be discussed should you wish to happily and comfortably stay at home.
As you or your loved one ages, there needs to be a realistic assessment of what your/their goals are if they wish to stay at home. The capacity to achieve this must be realistically assessed, including any health, independence, support, home modifications and financial issues. Have you discussed with your loved one what you would both like to happen if you or they had a fall, needed rehabilitation and could not return home?
In short, ageing at home generally requires some assistance whether it’s informal care from a friend or family member or in home care with someone that you can build rapport with and feel comfortable.
Planning for aged care is an emotional and strenuous process, but not one that we can afford to ignore. It is important to prepare as much as possible. Don’t leave it too late to have the dreaded conversation about aged care. Transitioning to aged care doesn’t have to be a stressful and anxious ordeal for you or your loved ones.
The key is “planning”. So many residential admissions or home care packages are reactionary. Don’t wait until you or your loved one has an incident that results in needing to engage some form of aged care. Plan ahead and be prepared.
17 January 2019.