It’s never an easy decision to make, but the time comes when you have to admit that caring for your loved one on your own is too complicated and it may be time to move them to an aged care facility. There are many reasons to come to this decision, but it is not easy for anyone to take. Jan Heystek, CEO of Fleurenville Aged Care Centre, provides comfort and advice to those faced with this heart-wrenching decision.
“We understand that we are dealing with peoples’ mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles. It’s a family. You love them and want only the best for the people you love,” says Jan. “What you will come to realise is that deciding to place your loved one in an aged care facility is the best for them – and for you.” Caring for an older person, especially someone with a mental condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, can be a full-time job. It places an immense amount of strain on the primary caregiver and the entire household.
How do you know when it is time to move someone to a care facility? There is no one correct answer to this question. It depends on the person and their circumstances. If the older person is struggling to cope independently and if the caregiver is struggling to cope with caring for the person, then it is time to look for help. If someone is not able to physically care for themself, it can put them at risk. Jan says that the signs that a person is not caring for themself to look out for include a decrease in personal hygiene, i.e. not bathing, dirty laundry and general house cleaning. Further indications are unexplainable change in weight, bruises and cuts, and inability to perform routine daily activities.
When a parent or other elderly family member is no longer able to care for themselves, the family sees it as their duty to take the person in and care for them. The decision will affect the household because coping with full-time jobs and caring for children in addition to providing full time care to another family member will affect quality of life. “It might work well at first,” says Jan, “but some debilitating conditions can worsen over time and what you may have been able to cope with in the beginning gets harder over time. It could also be the case that you cannot meet the healthcare needs of your loved one and realise that you need professional help. Then it may be better for you, your loved one and your family to move them to a facility where they can get the care and attention they need.”
Telling a family member that you have decided to place them into an aged care facility can also be a daunting part of the process, but it won’t be as difficult as you think when done right. “Include them in the process. Don’t approach them as if you have already made the decision,” Jan advises. “Tell them about the options you are looking at and tell the person that you will make the decision together.”
Many older people resist moving to any facility as they see it as the final nail in their independence and may feel that you are just trying to get rid of them. Jan says, “Here at Fleurenville, we aim to give our residents a new beginning and excitement for the chapter of their lives that lies ahead. Not only will your family member be cared for by qualified professionals, but they will also discover how great it can be living in a place like ours. We encourage our residents to socialise and make friends. Your loved ones will soon come to see that their days of having fun are far from over.”
Arrange for a tour to the facility to see and experience where they will be living – it may help them get excited about moving and assist in making the transition easier. “When your family member is excited and happy about the decision to move, it makes it easier for the rest of the family. It reassures them that they are making the correct decision and helps to ease any feelings of guilt or uncertainty.”
Any feelings of guilt over not being able to care for your loved one is normal but Jan assures that they are also unnecessary. “Reassure yourself that your family member is going to be in the hands of trained and qualified professionals who have dedicated their lives to caring for your family member as if they were their own. No offence, but the team at Fleurenville will probably take better care of them than you can,” Jan jokes.
“Fleurenville, Aged Care Centre, offers many care options, ensuring that your loved one gets the care they need, and you get peace of mind,” Jan concludes.