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What does it mean to grow old at home, not in one? In this episode of Grey Matters, Tracey and Ben talk about what it means to age in place and how you can make plans to choose the way you age.

Key points discussed:

  • Making an ageing plan
  • Options for care as you age
  • Signs that you are struggling at home
  • How to get into the aged care system
  • How long does it take to access aged care?


Read Full Transcript

Ben Davis:
Good day. Welcome to Grey Matters. In this episode, how to grow old at home not in one. Ben Davis with you alongside Tracy Silvester from Seasons Aged Care. Tracy, growing old at home and not in one. What exactly does that mean?

Tracey Silvester:
Well, it just basically means, Ben, that you actually have choices as you age. Just because you are old doesn't mean the nursing home is the only choice for you in terms of where you spend your final years or the final 10 years or 15 years or whatever.

Ben Davis:
I think the majority would rather stay at home.

Tracey Silvester:
That's certainly if you read all the research and the literature, that's what people say. Yes, they want to stay at home. They don't want to go into a nursing home if they can help it, but often what happens is that people have a catastrophic event, so they might have a fall at home, they might have the fall and break a hip, they might have something happen or they might have been just really unwell. They end up in a hospital and otherwise well-meaning people in hospitals immediately jump to ‘you have to go into a nursing home’. You can't go home. What we're really trying to do is actually encourage people to think about their choices and that just because the doctor says you have to go to nursing home doesn't mean that you should.

Ben Davis:
Life is about choices, about options. We want options. What options are there as we age?

Tracey Silvester:
For the majority of people, they're still living in their two story house with 20 steps up the front and 15 down the back and often big homes you have big four bedroom houses that the kids have grown up in. It does come down to thinking about is that the most appropriate environment for me to live in. Downsizing might be to a smaller townhouse, it might be moving into retirement living, so a retirement village type situation. It's just a lot more difficult for them to maintain that big house. We often see yards that aren't as well kept as they used to be. Gardens that become overgrown. We also see that the house itself becomes a little bit dirty and not tidy, but the dusting doesn't get done.

It's a bit difficult to get the washing on the line because you can't get down those 15 steps down the back as easily as you used to. They're often the first signs is that people who have been historically incredibly proud of their houses start to struggle a little bit. But, that doesn't mean that they have to move.

Ben Davis:
You and I have spoken in the past about having that conversation and your first piece of advice was have it carefully. Then once you've made that decision, how do you get it into the system?

Tracey Silvester:
The government introduced My Aged Care a couple of years ago now and that is supposed to be the single entry point for people into receiving services as they get older. I would encourage everybody who's over 65 who is perhaps starting to think about what their choices might be as they get older to register themselves with My Aged Care. The My Aged Care people will ask a few screening questions, just a few general questions about how you're coping, things you can do, things you can't do. They will then determine what happens next. That might be an assessment to put you into the early stages of service delivery, which is things like your cleaning, mowing your lawn, or it might be that you need to have an assessment by the Aged Care assessment team.

That basically means that your needs are probably a little bit more complex and you do need to move into a different type of service delivery. It doesn't mean however that you need to go to a nursing home.

Ben Davis:
When you mention government, we always think about the wheels turning ever so slowly. How long does this process take?

Tracey Silvester:
What is taking a lot of time right now is for people to start receiving the services that they need, particularly in the home care package programme. There was about 100 odd thousand people waiting to get access to a home care package. Some of those people, about 60,000 of those people, are people who are receiving a home care package, but who need to receive services at a higher level. There's about 40 odd thousand people who really need a service but who haven't got access to that. It is an issue and that's why I say to people to start planning now because then if you're in the system, when you really need that service, you're likely to get it.

Ben Davis:
Tracy, great advice, great insight as always. Growing old at home not in one. We'll chat again soon.

Tracey Silvester:
Thanks, Ben.

Ben Davis:
Remember, grey matters.

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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.
Faye and her dog Jackie, Kallangur
“I didn’t want to leave my own home. But now I call Seasons home because I could bring Jackie. I don’t have to do anything. I have never felt so free. I can crochet, walk Jackie and I love Bingo.”
Noel, Caloundra
“I feel safe here which is an important thing when you’re getting on and unable to defend oneself so security is a main factor. I get along with everyone well. We have a little wine group that meets Monday to Friday – unfortunately not on the weekend – and we discuss all kinds of things.”