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Moving into aged care is often a difficult subject to bring up with your elderly parent or loved one, particularly if they consider themselves to be independent or they have a strong sentimental attachment to the family home.

At Seasons Aged Care, far too often we are contacted by adult children or a spouse in ‘crisis mode’ needing to find a place for their mum, dad, husband or wife ‘yesterday’. This begs the question, when is the right time to move into aged care?

In our experience, Elders who move into aged care while they are still somewhat independent or perhaps require minimal or low care tend to transition relatively smoothly. Usually, the family has done all of the research. They’ve perhaps taken Mum or Dad to visit half a dozen aged care communities where they have weighed up the pros and cons and finally come to a joint decision, based on the factors that are important to them.

The key message here is they had a ‘choice’. They were not thrown into disarray amidst a crisis and forced to choose the first bed available in a facility that perhaps doesn’t fit the desires or ideals of how they wish to live out their remaining years. When you look at it this way, it really does demonstrate why perhaps ‘now’ is the right time.

Signs that you should be thinking about aged care

Generally speaking, there are signs that it is time to sit down with your loved one and have a real conversation about aged care. Particularly where the elder lives alone and no longer has a spouse looking out for them. Some common signs to look out for are:

  • Difficulty maintaining or getting around the house due to hazards such as stairs
  • Memory loss, forgetfulness or confusion
  • Physical impairment or chronic disease
  • Decreasing hygiene practices
  • Changes in personality, feeling down or lonely

If you are concerned about your loved one living alone, open up the conversation. Get the family together to support you in broaching the subject. Don’t be forceful, offer to ‘show them a few places’ without obligation so they are at least open to looking … get them through the door and you’ve won half the battle! Take the hard work out of it for them, make it enjoyable and stress-free.

Related post: How to plan for aged services and avoid a care crisis

Another good idea is to have a good understanding of the aged care options available and what they will cost. This will give you a good idea of what option will suit your loved one – from a care and lifestyle perspective as well as cost. It also allows time to get expert financial advice to better understand your options.

While many elders feel they are ‘not quite ready’ because they don’t have high care needs, moving into a community environment with social and lifestyle activities can minimise loneliness and have a whole host of health benefits. We often see residents who move to Seasons after living alone for some time take on a new lease of life and embrace this next phase of their life.

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Tracey Silvester
Tracey Silvester is Executive Manager of Envigor and has more than 25 years’ experience in health and aged care services. Tracey is committed to ensuring that our elders are able to exercise their right to choose how they live their lives regardless of their ability or function. Tracey is a Registered Nurse and has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Health Management. She is also an Associate Fellow of the Australian College of Health Service Management and a surveyor with the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards.