Would you undertake a degree in rocket science when in the midst of an emotional crisis?

NO‘ I hear you shout! That would be misuse of valuable time and energy.

There are professionals who can sort out the Aged Care placement process, so why not engage their services?

The answer is probably because most people don’t know that these people exist – like I didn’t when I was trying to get my mother-in-law into care. Where were they hiding?

They were not far away and in fact there are more and more of them springing up globally, but if you’ve never heard of them, then you won’t know who to Google. And if you do Google them, how do you know if they’re good or not and if the fee they charge is reasonable?

The longer I work at Demystifying the Aged Care Puzzle, the more professionals I’m adding to my database, so that when I sit down with a client I can draw on my list of trusted and experienced professionals.

I need to know that the people to whom I refer are going to have the same empathy and care for you as I do, so that anything to do with the ageing process can be covered with ease and if necessary, speed.

When you’ve done some preparation, you can buy time with the hospital, by saying, ‘We have a Placement Consultant working on this with us and will have it sorted in a few days.’

Act now before there’s a crisis.

You’ll be glad you did! I consult with families to create an Action Plan, specific to them, so they can attend to some of the preliminaries whilst their loved one is still in a reasonable condition. We never know what’s around the corner.

To schedule a time to discuss what’s happening, please email me … gail@gailruthmiller.com

We never know what tomorrow will bring

When speaking to audiences, I repeat the same slide three times … and not because I have short-term memory issues.

Act now before there’s a crisis!

Whatever preparation we can do before a crisis occurs with our elderly loved ones, will save drama, heart-ache and distress later. A crisis is generally a broken bone, stroke or heart issue and they literally happen in a blink!

When people have their decluttering and legals in order, they can cross two of the biggies off the To Do List.

For several years I’ve been sprouting second hand stories of people being placed by a hospital, once they’re out of crisis, in Residential Aged Care homes hundreds of miles from their home and families.

The hospital discharge staff aren’t trying to be unkind, but are simply freeing up the bed for a younger patient who can be treated and made well again, rather than keeping an elderly, declining patient, who is now stable and not likely to improve.

Last week, one of the audience at my Demystifying the Aged Care Puzzle talk told of her Mum being sent to a home 150 kms (2 hours) from her home and family. They were devastated and I personally find this heartbreaking!

She didn’t have to stay there, but her family now had to find an Aged Care Home closer and unfortunately they didn’t see her as urgent, because she already had a placement!

And with the extra travel to visit Mum, no one had the time or energy to attend to learning the process of finding that elusive bed, so this is what happened …

How much energy is left to provide emotional support?

Because the family didn’t know any better, they started trying to navigate the Aged Care process … Alone!

Tune in to Part 7 to find out what they could have done …

When you arrive and your father-in-law is waving a Final Notice from his electricity provider in your face, demanding that you tell him why they sent it, should that ring an alarm bell? Is it that he’s no longer able to manage his affairs? And if that’s the case, does he have dementia setting in?

An ever increasing issue of the elderly is Social Isolation.

Social Isolation can disguise itself as the early stages of dementia ….

For many who are living in their own home Social Isolation is an issue of epidemic proportions around the globe.

It’s a tricky one, because it may seem that Mum or Dad are ok in their home because they’re able to manage their personal care needs, their shopping, their cooking and they are still mobile.

But you notice when you visit that they always seem sad and are becoming increasingly negative, bordering on depressed and for no apparent reason.

They may also be avoiding social contact with others due to this decline on the happiness scale.

A lady I met kept describing her home as a concrete jungle. She’d chosen to buy the home 6 years prior, but she was becoming increasingly distressed by living there. It seemed to her family that she had early signs of dementia.

It may not be dementia

               It may not be dementia

Within six weeks of moving into permanent Residential Aged Care, this same lady was as happy as a  pig in mud!

With people wandering about all  the time, she felt like she had company all the time, even when staff were attending to another resident.

And, miraculously all the signs of dementia had vanished. Sometimes the remedy for such a malady is moving into care, even if the elderly person is initially resistant.

It’s worth considering …

Are you ok?
Keep an eye on the carers …

Are you an accidental carer?

Many people simply drift into the role of caring for an elderly loved one. No one asks them if they want to – it just happens.

Sometimes it’s because a family member lives with the person who’s declining and it’s just expected that they will undertake this role.

Sometimes it’s because of cultural expectations that dictate that the eldest daughter will undertake this role, regardless of her other responsibilities.

Whatever the reason, it’s a very demanding role and we need to keep an eye on the carers. Unfortunately it’s the carer who can sometimes fall apart before the person for whom they’re caring, especially when it’s an elderly partner looking after their spouse.

Even in families where they agree to share the load, there are usually those who carry the greatest load and this can sometimes erode what may have been a good relationship with their loved one. When the demands become constant or extreme, or their cognition changes and they are no longer the person they were, this can be challenging, exhausting and sometimes exasperating.

Meanwhile, when other family members have escaped the caring role, it can cause resentment amongst siblings.

And often there is a sizeable dose of grief added to the mix: – grief for the parent who is a mere shadow of the person they once were – grief for a good relationship that may have slipped away – grief that you may have to put Mum or Dad into care and don’t want to – grief that your elderly loved one won’t be here forever.

Speaking with the right professionals can provide answers to some of these issues, but if you’re like me when a relative needed to go into care, I didn’t know that any professionals were out there and thought I had to navigate this mine field alone.

After I’d finally got her into a great Residential Aged Care Home, I interviewed the one professional who did give us some help and he introduced me to others. If only he’d done that before, I may not have felt like the girl in the cartoon above who insists, ‘I’m fine?’

My Aged Care Liaison business was born of necessity – I want families to be free to provide emotional support to loved ones whilst the professionals deal with the nuts and bolts of getting a person into care.

“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.

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.

Have you ever thought about the number of things we should do?

Why? Who said so? Is should a good enough reason to do anything?

Senior 4Obviously, for reasons of personal and public safety, we should drive on the correct side of the road.

Several years ago my husband and I realised that we have spent most of our adult live should-ing, sometimes to our own detriment.

Should-ing  takes our time, our enjoyment of life and often, or more accurately, usually creates negative energy. What if we measured what we think we should do on a scale that asks,

‘Is it light or heavy?’ *

Most things are one or the other. If it’s light, it’s right.*

Try it and I’ll guarantee that your should will weigh one or the other.

* Light or heavy and If it’s light, it’s right are both taught in Access Consciousness™

Gail n AC bk openI’ve been pottering along for a number of years as an Author and a Speaker, with real life getting in the way of me establishing a thriving business. A few contracts here and there have been great to pay the bills, but have also left me feeling that I was leading a ‘perforated life.’

What’s that, I hear you ask? Working Monday, Wednesday and Friday on a two year contract left me with Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday to work on my own business and I soon realised that I never felt like I was in flow. No sooner did I start a project and it was time to go back to paid work!

Don’t get me wrong – I was grateful for the income.

Hence, I’ve felt like I was marking time in my business. This year, having completed the contract, I’ve decided to focus, use a whiteboard and a manual index card contact filing system, along with other strategies to reduce the overwhelm of keeping everything in my head and hoping madly that I could recall all the minute details later.

Several years ago I attended a Business Intensive in Perth at which Alex Mandossian explained the WIT Principle. I recently realise that I’ve been using this for some time by doing Whatever ITakes to propel my business forward.

I add a rider to the WIT Principle – it must be honest, ethical and benefit both parties.

I’ve also realised that I need to let go of the Little Red Hen principle – “I’ll do it myself.” As an independent and capable person, I tried to do everything myself, but realised that, amongst other things, I was not gifted at MYOB. That was my first foray into loosening the reins – handing over the finances to a book keeper – and what a relief that was.

Next I found some freelancers who are much more adept at creating promo booklets than I’ll ever be. They’ve saved me blood, sweat and tears! And whilst they’re busily taking care of some of the essentials that are not my forte, I can focus on what I’m best at – creating content for my books, talks and workshops and practising for speaking engagements.

With a little more organisation in my life, I feel like I’m now more in flow and I’ve left the perforations behind, having torn out that overwhelming and messy page!