“I can’t go into care because of my dogs! And what about my Royal Family collection? There’s all the books, DVDs and every Women’s Weekly collector’s edition with the Queen and Princess Di. I’m not moving anywhere if I can’t take them!”

Don't let possessions stand in the way of care if it's needed

Don’t let possessions stand in the way of care if it’s needed

These are some of the reasons I hear when I meet with families and their elderly parent who clearly needs to be in a more supported environment, rather than living in their own home with a daughter who works full-time and is stretched to her limit.

Winning the trust of the elderly client is a must.

Many don’t trust the government, so as I introduce myself I let them know that I don’t work for the government and with many there is an audible sigh of relief,  along with, “Don’t you?” Then there’s a relaxed look on their face and I’ve suddenly become their friend.

If I can meet with the client and their families in the client’s home, I’m able to get the true picture of what’s really happening. Sometimes an answer is given to a question and the daughter or son will give me a cross-eyed glance or raise an eyebrow, clearly indicating that the answer was interesting! I make a mental note to follow that up privately at a later time, to get the accurate story.

In the early stages of dementia it’s often difficult for families to pick up that there’s a real issue. The elderly can be seen as just forgetful, vague or sometimes ornery, and if their partner is still alive, this can be covered up for a good long while in many cases, although it’s usually not intentional.

During this time, the primary carer, often the partner, becomes increasingly stressed, stretched and in many cases their health declines, sometimes more rapidly than the person for whom they’re caring.

In other cases it’s a live-in son or daughter who is the primary carer. This can cause unsustainable levels of stress, grief and sadness as the relationship between the parent and adult child erodes during the decline. And this may affect their mental health.

At this time, Respite can be a life-saver and may also be an opportunity for the elderly person to experience Residential Aged Care – a try before you buy scenario.

For my mother-in-law respite was a game-changer! She absolutely loved it! She loved the home, the staff, the food, the activities and the fact that there was always someone walking past.

Her negative views of living in an Aged Care Home vanished during that experience and shortly after, she was offered a placement. She happily moved into her new home one week later.

Five years on she’s still receiving great care in a home where she’s not only safe, but happy.

Respite ~ the game-changer for the elderly client and  their family!

 

The issues of the elderly are as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore! What bothers one person is like water off a duck’s back to another.

A man who read my book, 5 Easy Ways to Solve the Aged Care Puzzle, a while back, remembered reading that I was a Mentor, so he contacted me and asked if I could meet with him to sort out a dilemma.

He lives alone in an immaculately kept unit with a lovely garden, is fully self-sufficient, with no care needs and is in good health. So, like the client I spoke of in Part 1 of this series, we were not discussing Residential Aged Care – far from it.

His email told me some of his story and explained a little about why he wanted to update his Will, Power of Attorney and Advance Care Directive.

When we met, the story expanded, became quite convoluted and explained why his current Power of Attorney was no longer suitable. It seemed that there were no family members who could be entrusted with this role, for a variety of reasons. And all his friends were too old and were quite likely to drop off their twig before him!

An Estate Planning lawyer had given me some clues on professional

We never know what tomorrow may bring!

We never know what tomorrow may bring!

people who may be asked to take on this role and this proved to be a life-saving solution for this elderly gentleman. He now has a professional who has provided trusted service to him for many years, who’s happy to take on this task.

 

A one-off, unexplained fall had also unravelled his confidence somewhat, so we discussed the possibility of wearing an Alert pendant around his neck. He hadn’t thought of that, so has since ordered one.

By the time I left he was decidedly calmer and as with the previous client, he had an Action Plan to get him started.

It’s amazing to see the transformation in a person when they’ve been able to share their story with someone who’s prepared to listen without judgement.

Our assumption that the fears of the elderly revolve around the possibility of them moving into Residential Aged Care, is often correct.

However, there are a good many other concerns too – losing their licence, needing a walker because they’re becoming unsteady on their legs, feeling unsafe on their own or their realisation that they’re becoming increasingly forgetful. These are only the tip of the iceberg!

In meeting with families to ‘Demystify the Aged Care Puzzle,’ we get into all manner of discussions, many of which don’t involve moving into Residential Aged Care.

I recently had a long consultation with a widow, in her early 80’s, still driving,  incredibly capable and healthy, computer savvy and financially very secure. Her quandary was whether to move and buy a lovely unit in a secure retirement living complex.

Retirement Village unit

Retirement Village unit

For some, I’d advise against it because of their failing health and fragility, and the likelihood of them needing full time care in the near future. But for this woman, whose mother lived to her late 90’s, there seemed to be no contraindications.

The different advice from family members, along with the mixed messages and opinions of her friends, had created a state of confusion, so she asked me to come to listen to her story.

Being an outsider, with no vested interest, I was able to listen impartially, then give her – not answers – but an Action Plan.

The plan was this – Take a sheet of paper and write a Pro’s list and a Con’s list and see how the balance tips. She had done this previously, but this time she had to consider some extra factors based on things she’d shared with me:

1/ Will this new home make me feel safer than I do living here?

2/ How do I feel about leaving the only house my husband and I shared?

This delightful lady now had a place to start with a new thinking process, devoid of the opinions of all and sundry, all of which were causing her considerable distress.

Happily, I can report that she did her homework and now has a contract on the home that she really wants to purchase.

I received this message the other day, ‘Thank you for your help in providing me with a lot of information regarding my future. Thank you again!’

As most of us don’t talk aloud to ourselves in a full-scale conversation about our problems or concerns, we never allow our brain to search for the answers. This is why a consultation can be so helpful. When we share our story with an outsider, our brain can go into action so that we often answer our own question!

It’s rewarding listening to people then watching to see how they solve their own problems.

I’m a firm believer in an energetic connection between people who care about each other.

Have you ever had a phone call from a friend who you were thinking about? And when you answered you said, ‘I was just thinking about you.’ That’s because there seems to be a positive vibrational energy that invisibly connects us when we have a common purpose or an emotional attachment to a person.

I recently had a sad, but interesting, situation with an injured kangaroo. I watched the roo alternate between limping through the undergrowth beside a suburban street with a badly injured leg, then collapsing to regain its strength before staggering on again. I was acting as sentry across the road to slow down passing traffic so that if the afflicted roo tried to jump onto the road it wouldn’t be further injured.

At one point he stood upright just across from me and we stared each other in the eye. I spoke gently to him. For several minutes he seemed mesmerised by my gaze and it seemed like he knew that, from a distance, I was there providing comfort and caring for him.

And that’s exactly what I was doing for the 45 minutes whilst we were waiting for assistance – all my attention and energy went into ensuring that the roo was as safe as he could be.

We couldn’t get any closer, because he was terrified and I would have been in potential danger with a distressed native animal. However, through an energetic field we were able to connect and several weeks later I can still feel the longing stare of his chocolate brown eyes as they asked pleadingly for help.

The fact that he remained motionless for almost 5 minutes whilst we held our gaze indicated an energetic connection with this lovely creature and is a memory  I treasure. It was the only support I could give him and at least he wasn’t totally alone.

So perhaps the fact that I talk to my plants isn’t as whacky as one may think!

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A recent Sunday morning trip to Mt Lofty Botanical Garden with my husband, Ron, went awry thanks to a van and a huge kangaroo that had strayed into suburbia.

As we approached the final turn into the gardens, the roo came bounding across in front of our car and into the undergrowth in a ditch beside the road. One leg was flailing in the breeze as it jumped.

Sadly, the kangaroo had leapt in front of the van that ran over his foot, disabling the entire leg.

The van driver stopped and between the three of us, a plan unfolded to get help for the kangaroo. Interestingly, without any discussion, we drifted into different roles to attend to the situation.

The distraught van driver phoned Fauna Rescue who were unable to dispatch anyone to assist. Ron remained in our car with the hazard lights alerting drivers to the potential hazard – a roo that kept trying to stabilise itself long enough to jump back onto the road. He also listened to the van driver who wanted to off-load what had actually happened and who was noticeably upset.

As the kangaroo moved through the undergrowth, intermittently collapsing then regaining his footing, I stood on the opposite side of the road to flag down motorists in case he managed to get back onto the road. I had to keep my distance, as native animals, particularly if injured, can be unpredictable.

One of the drivers who came by was a man who normally shot  injured roos and usually had his weapons in the truck, but on this occasion he was unarmed. Fortunately, he was able to supply the phone number of an expert marksman who lived just over the hill.

The marksman arrived to attend to the stricken beast, so we made our exit, leaving the van driver and shooter to discuss the next course of action.

I marvelled at how the situation had unfolded – firstly recognising the compassion of the van driver who stopped when many would have driven on. Then I noted that without any plan we drifted into roles in which we were comfortable and that were necessary for the safety of the public and also the injured animal.

A Team can be built when people with a common purpose see a need and work within their skill set to fill that need.

We never did get to the gardens that day, but probably filled a greater need by ensuring that the kangaroo was given the assistance it required in its hour of need.