Many people admit with a mixture of sadness and guilt that they are having to look for a residential care facility for their loved one – usually a spouse, parent, or grandparent. Their loved one has dementia, they explain – Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s – or some other challenging, demanding health condition that makes them feel that they can no longer cope. Sometimes, it is the responsibility of just one person, and the burden is great; but even when a whole family takes shared responsibility it can be difficult to ensure that the elderly person is sufficiently cared for.
The stress of caring
Certainly, dementia can take its toll on the family: the unpredictability of the disease – delusions, hallucinations, confusion, and a tendency to wander – often leave family members feeling out of control. Fear that something may happen to the parent – getting lost, becoming endangered or exposed to risk, or being taken advantage of – means that adult children or partners begin to feel that they will be safer in residential care than at home.
Deciding on care
However, a decision to place a loved one in residential care should not be taken lightly, and the range of other options in place to support family and protect vulnerable elderly people should be seriously considered as well.
Home care is a simple but powerful solution to the anxiety that comes with having a loved one with deteriorating cognitive and physical functions. Powerful, because it aims to protect both the client’s independence and dignity, and also because it supports the family’s desire to have the best possible standard of care for their loved one. Indisputably, the best possible place for an ageing person to be is in their own home and there are a range of services that facilitate this choice.
When home is not an option
But what if home care simply isn’t feasible? For many family carers, there comes a point that, in spite of their best efforts, residential care is the best choice.
Usually, family carers can cobble together a coping strategy until a place at their chosen residential facility becomes available. But for Val Caulfield, at 82 years herself, she needed extra support to care for her husband of 62 years. Roy has dementia and a tendency to wander, which Val couldn’t manage.
Respite care has been the temporary solution for Roy – a hospital for people with advanced dementia – until a spot in Val’s care centre of choice opens up.
This has been a sort of limbo for both Val and Roy – more institutional than caring – and the only stimulation Roy experiences is the card games he plays with Val when she visits each day.
Do your research
Perhaps the best advice for people who are beginning to realise that their ageing relatives need more support than they can provide, is to decide soon, and research thoroughly. By visiting and touring various facilities, you will begin to develop a sense of what will suit your loved one’s needs and your expectations.
Find out about additional services – aged care providers like Platinum will send support workers to residential facilities to provide social support for loved ones, when family can’t get there. These services enable loved ones to continue to live a fulfilling life, within an environment that gives family peace of mind.