“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!”
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!