How to broach the aged care conversation

My Grandpa is 90 years old. He’s been living at home with my Nana and they were doing fairly well until he had a stroke a couple of years ago. Although Grandpa recovered somewhat he was never quite as strong as he was prior to the stroke. 

Nana and Grandpa have lived in that very house for 60 years. It is their home and the thought of anyone having to leave it and move elsewhere caused great distress.

The family moved Grandpa into the downstairs bedroom and he would shuffle from his favorite floral armchair, to the dining table, to the bathroom and to bed using a walker, but he was no longer steady as an oak, he was now like a daisy in the wind. 

Sometimes he would fall needing the assistance of a neighbor or an ambulance medic to help him up. One time, he landed on Nana and nearly squished her like a pancake against the kitchen counter. Thankfully, she was able to right them both before they hit the ancient linoleum. 

Still, he did not want to go into a care home. 

He had a “turn” recently and he ended up in hospital, and the decision was removed from their hands. We were told that Grandpa could not go home because it was no longer safe for either of them for him to remain in their family home.

While our family’s decision was made for us in a time of crisis, it is thought to be a subject best broached before this point according to Bupa Aged care consultant, Joanne Davids.

“The considered advice is to have the conversation before the need arises. That can be difficult for many families. Aged Care homes still for many epitomises the “end of the line”. This is why it is important for our families, communities, aged care providers and government organizations to provide as many communication opportunities as possible to start to bridge that gap from misinformation to helpful easily understood information,” says Joanne.

“When struggling to have that conversation it is so important to remember that you are providing your loved one the opportunity to discuss, plan and choose what they want if the future of aged care living becomes a reality not at a crisis point in their lives.”    

While many people may still not consider an aged care home the best choice for themselves or their loved one, the fact remains that it may simply become the necessary choice.

“For many reasons the person who is, or will be, the main carer arrives at a point where they can no longer physically or mentally continue to provide the level of care that is needed for their loved one,” says Joanne.
Older couple with man in wheelchair
“Aged care living offers 24-hour nursing care and, includes but is not limited to, day- to- day living tasks such as cleaning and laundry, personal care and grooming, meals, allied health support such as physiotherapy and podiatry, and a variety of independent or group social activities. The over-arching principles of aged care are focused on providing a quality, personalised service to each individual resident.   

Many people dislike large lifestyle changes and the thought can make fears arise. In order to help your loved one come to terms with the idea, you can arm yourself and them with information about their options and the difference it can make to their ease of living.

“Providing opportunities for visits to different aged care homes and talking with the staff and the residents who live there. Knowing what different homes offer in design, location and quality of service,” says Joanne of alleviating fears. “Ensuring that your loved one is making, as much as possible, all the decisions that will affect them. Listen to their concerns and help them resolve them.” 

Many primary carers continue to spend their days with their loved ones, and have regular outings, but everyone can breathe a little easier knowing that help is right there under the same roof if it is required. It may take time a little time to get used to, but the benefits of having 24-hour care, and an increased social life if desired, outweigh most fears shortly.

“The majority of residents in my experience embrace their new home.  The day-to-day worries of living alone or in a compromised environment are alleviated.  They can join in social interactions or enjoy their own company as they choose.
 
“They are assured that if they become unwell there is a registered nurse on site to help them. There is consultation with each individual resident on their clinical care, personal care, social, cultural and spiritual needs at regular intervals,” says Joanne.   

The Bupa promise to “know you and your needs, and help you steer your decisions, and be there when you need us” is at the forefront of their aged care. Just as you put the needs of your loved ones first, so too does the Bupa Aged care team.
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