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The elephant in the room – How to address aged care with your parents

The current generation now reaching their senior years are made of tough stuff. They’re the post-war baby boomers who have seen the world endure struggle, unrest, unimaginable growth and unprecedented change. But try telling them that they have changed and you could be faced with abrupt denial.

The issue of ageing can be a prickly one for those experiencing it. So talking to older parents about the potential need for care is a bit like addressing the elephant in the room. It’s a conversation that everyone may be avoiding, but it’s also one that has to be had. As children or family, you need to take a deep breath and sensitively plan your approach.

Older relatives often fall into one of two categories. The first haven’t even thought of their future care options, because they don’t think they need it and they want to stay independent. And the second group know they need help but are feeling overwhelmed, disempowered and totally confused by the options, financial costs and paperwork involved.

The key to managing both groups is being patient and not rushing any decision. For those who are unable to see their limitations or changing needs, a soft approach is essential. Focus on the positives and how government-subsidised care can take boring chores off their hands. With someone else to help around their home with cleaning, bed making, home maintenance and even meal preparation – they’ll have more time to do the things they enjoy. You might also want to reassure them that it can take six to 12 months to be approved for a Home Care Package, so it’s beneficial to start the process well before they need it.

Other seniors acknowledge the need for help, but don’t know where to start. Here it can be better to do the background research first before getting them involved. Talk to a government appointed aged care provider, such as Feros Care, to discuss the options and then narrow them down to the most suitable one or two choices. Presenting too many options can overwhelm and confuse most people, causing unnecessary anxiety.

Illness and injury can also knock a senior for six! Sometimes relatives just need an intensive short-term solution to get back on their feet. Feros Care’s Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) is a personally tailored eight week program to support recovery and to boost mental, emotional and physical confidence. With the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of allied health professionals, from occupational therapists to nutritionists, physical capabilities can be addressed and restored. STRC is also a gentle way to introduce a relative to the idea of ‘care’ for the future.

Like most things in life, the fear of the unknown can stall the decision-making process. But the good news is that the right support actually reduces the need for change. That’s because the majority of government-funded programs, such as the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) or Home Care Packages (HCP) are aimed at keeping seniors in their homes where they can remain active and independent. Plus the chances are that the government will pick up the tab!

The important thing is to start the conversation early. Then you and your relative won’t be faced with an emergency where you have to make a quick decision, which may not be the right one in the long-term. Feros Care consultants are compassionate and experienced in supporting those who are a little reluctant about aged care. They can help talk through the process without any pressure to act now. The goal is to simply begin gathering information and to let your parents sit with the idea for a while. Because let’s be real, they’re not going to change their minds overnight, but you can plant the seed and let the idea grow on them.

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