WNA Blog

Fri 2 Feb 2024

Caring for Ageing Parents

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Many of us are facing a daunting reality - our beloved Mums and Dads are getting old.

When we are kids, our parents seem strong and powerful.

But as adults, the day eventually comes when we realise that their physical, and sometimes mental, capabilities are starting to decline.

And so begins a whole new chapter of our lives, as we try to do what is best for them, honour their wishes and stay sane and healthy ourselves!

Time for some Important Conversations

Open conversations and some expert advice can lay the foundations for easier, more comfortable, and more dignified, transitions through the journey of life. Fear of the unknown can cause much more stress than doing your research and being prepared.

There are many considerations to be made.  Your parents may require physical and personal care, and emotional and social support. Levels of care and support needed will change over time so it’s wise to discuss various options including:

  • Your parents staying in their own home as long as possible.
  • You becoming their official Carer… or not.
  • Your parent moving into a retirement facility with different levels of care.

Everyone’s journey is different; however, communication and preparation are key to making that journey as smooth and hassle-free as possible for everyone.

Here are 6 important topics to discuss sooner rather than later:

  1. Alarms and monitors – So your parent can get help in an emergency.
  2. Help in the home – Do they need assistance with cleaning and maintenance of their home? Are they eligible for a Home Care Package?
  3. Home adaptations – Will a ramp or lift rather than stairs, or an easy access shower with a grab rail mean that they can stay in their own home for longer?
  4. Financials – Seek out a financial adviser with accreditation as an aged care professional. They can explain your options and give advice on everything from the costs of high-level care, to the impact a shift into a nursing home may have on  pension entitlements. You can even book an appointment with an aged care financial adviser online, making it possible even if you, your parents and the planner live in different states!
  5. Emergency care plan – Organising for all the information about your parent to be in one place.
  6. Legal arrangements – Consider arranging an advance care plan, a current will, and/or appointing a guardian or power of attorney.

Taking Care of YOU

Keep in mind your own capacity – challenging circumstances will arise with physical and/or mental deterioration such as Alzheimer’s. Could you cope with personality changes and even aggression? Incontinence? Could you assist with mobility? If not you, then who? What impacts will there be on your family, work and own wellbeing?

These are big, tough issues to face but it is far better to explore them now, rather than when things happen. Many older folk languish in hospital beds – usually the last thing they want – while waiting for a place in an aged care facility where they could enjoy a much better quality of life.

For peace of mind, and to ensure the best possible outcomes for your parents AND you, ideally start these conversations sooner rather than later.

Because you and your parents deserve to live your best lives – right to the end.

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