Nothing is quite as difficult as coming to the conclusion that you can no longer care for your ageing parent on your own.
This could lead to the difficult decision of placing your elderly parents into an aged care facility. However, this task can be extremely challenging when your parents don’t wish to go, but you find yourself with no other option as they are no longer able to manage safely at home or the primary carer which maybe you is feeling significant stress and can no longer continue. Finding a way to deal with the mixed emotions that come with making such a decision is one thing, whilst at the same time trying to balance and uphold their wishes is another. This decision can be one of the most troubling life events you will probably go through in your life. But, there are some things that can make the process a bit easier.
One of the most difficult parts of moving your parents to aged care revolves around the conversations at some stage that you will have with them. Ideally having these conversations ahead of time can make the move a little easier when the time comes. However we appreciate that this is something many families struggling to raise with their parents, or they may not be in a position to completely understand if they have advanced dementia. Presumably if you find yourself in the position of making the decision on behalf of your parents they are most likely do not have capacity to make their own decisions. If your parents are in a position to understand their limitations, then it’s always best to be open and honest with them and raise your concerns and the reasons why home is no longer a safe option for them. Sometimes having this discussion in front of a doctor your parents know and trust then it can often help the process.
Even after numerous conversations and honest feedback, some parents are still very stressed and resistant to the idea of moving into aged care. One of the best ways to provide ongoing support and alleviate this is to take discussions slow, and introduce the idea at a pace you feel they are comfortable with. Pull-back a bit when your parents become especially resistant and look for ways to continually bring up the conversation gently.
Often the thought of the unknown can be very daunting and after all your parents have no doubt been in the family home for decades, so of-course it’s a big change. Many children find that by including them in the decision making process it starts to give them some form of control and choice over the decision. Often some anxieties can be relieved by taking them on the facility tour, to give them an idea of what the aged care facility looks and feels like. Sometimes, by seeing what the environment the thoughts or preconceptions they have about nursing homes may be relieved. Hopefully they will feel some sense of being able to enjoy and be apart of the community.
Once you have had the discussion with your parents to make the move to aged care, it is important that you work with the care team in the facility to make sure all family members are aligned in their goals and wishes. Giving the staff at the facility as much information as possible about their like and dislikes early on will ensure the team is across all requirements.
Many children report feeling guilty when they finally make the decision to move their parents to aged care. This guilt is a completely natural reaction to the circumstances you have been faced with. But, there are some things you can do to work through it. For example, start with acknowledging and preparing yourself for the natural response of feeling ‘guilty’. You may even want to consider dealing with the issue through counselling before you even begin experiencing the guilt and other emotions. This can help give you the right tools to deal with the challenging process when it does surface, especially if you have been the primary carer for sometime.
Also, focusing on empowering your parents as much as possible is not only good for them, but it can also help relieve some feelings of guilt for you to, knowing that they are involved. Whether this is choosing a care facility that allows your parents to be more independent or allowing your parents to make some of their care decisions, giving your parents more control over their future can help ease a lot of your guilt.
Understand this decision has not been made lightly and no doubt you have provided significant support until now so that they could stay at home.
Taking the time to reflect often and write down how you are feeling can be a therapeutic process to help you understand why you are feeling the way you are. It will be hard initially but once your parent settles into their the facility you it will get better, but it will often take some adjusting.
If you are currently going through this process, we hope some of these tips will help you make the transition from home to aged care a bit simpler for you and your parents.