Ageing is a process each of us goes through and although we have no control over it, ageing well is certainly in our hands. As you age, you might need a bit more support to do everyday things. Accepting this can be the beginning of ageing well and living in your home independently, for longer.
What is aged care and do you need it?
Aged care is the government-funded system of supports that eligible older Australians can receive, either in home or in residential aged care facilities.
For those who would like to remain living independently in their own homes (or with a family member) instead of transitioning to residential aged care, in-home support services can make all the difference. Whether you need help showering each morning, a bit of social connection in your community but can no longer drive, or you need more comprehensive services such as physiotherapy or even nursing for a medical condition, aged care support can make it possible.
Find out more about aged care and eligibility requirements for receiving aged care support.
Differences between home care and residential aged care
Home care aims to help you live independently in your own home for as long as possible. There are currently two government funded programs that deliver home-based support – the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) for basic level support and the Home Care Package (HCP) for those with higher level of care needs.
Residential care is there for people who need a higher level of care to meet their health and personal care needs, that can’t be provided in the home.
To decide which one is more appropriate for you, the first step is to apply for an aged care assessment (ACAT). Find out more about differences between home care and residential care.
How to access aged care funding in Australia
Aged care programs in Australia include in-home care, residential aged care (such as nursing homes), and short-term care, as in respite care. Which one would be most suitable for you would depend on your abilities to get by independently, from day to day, and the ACAT assessment you receive.
The first step to accessing funding is to meet eligibility criteria. Once you are eligible for either, the funding is paid to the ‘approved provider’ you choose, and you can start accessing the services set out during your assessment.
Learn more about eligibility requirements and aged care programs available in Australia.
How to encourage your parents to accept aged care support
When a loved one starts to show signs of ageing-related challenges, it’s likely time to begin a conversation about aged care and support. Naturally, you want them to thrive in their home environment, and you also want them to be safe and comfortable.
People who have been independent their whole lives may find it difficult to accept that they need support. It’s important to introduce the topic as wanting to give them all the support they need to enable them to continue living as they would like to. If a medical emergency has forced the conversation to become necessary, it’s usually easier to discuss aged care.
If, however, your loved one has been displaying signs of small injuries, weight loss, forgetfulness, or a reduction in their usual activities, you can simply start by raising these points.
The conversation may be just between yourself and your loved one, or include other members of the family. Whoever is involved, it’s important to consider: ‘What would I want if I needed support?’
Instead of a one-sided conversation in which everyone tells their loved one what they think should happen, it’s critical to listen and pay attention. Ageing can be confronting as it is, but to actually talk about it can make the individual feel ‘exposed’ and very vulnerable.
Create a comfortable environment for the conversation, preferably at their home, where they feel safest. Don’t rush the conversation, overload your loved one with information or tell them you’ve made decisions. They must be included in any decisions that are made.
Here are five ways you can encourage your parents to accept support as they age.
- Seek a second opinion – Your parents may feel you are ‘unqualified’ to suggest they need support. A second opinion from their doctor, their trusted church leader or a member of the Aged Care Assessment Team can help ease their recognition of their need for support.
- Allow your parents to take control – Be aware that fear may be a big driving force in your parents’ reluctance to accept support. Putting them in a position of control, to make their own choices and decisions can be very helpful in taking the next steps forward.
- Start small and start early – Try to raise the topic of aged care support early, before it actually becomes necessary. And when commencing with support, start with small ideas such as engaging a support worker to do their grocery shopping or help out with some light housework.
- It’s all about positioning – Frame any discussions around empowering your parents, rather than making them feel helpless. Explain that the support they receive can help them stay vibrant, active and well. Read more about the kinds of in-home supports that are available to keep older Australians living well.
- Accept your limitations – Don’t rush your parents into accepting aged care support. Wherever possible, give them the time and space they need to get used to the idea.
Remember that this is not a one-time-only conversation. It will likely be the first of many as your loved one’s needs change. Learn more about how to start a conversation around aged care support with your loved one.
Helping your ageing parents to plan for the future
Once you have had a helpful conversation to help your parents or loved ones understand they need support in their day to day life, you can begin helping them plan the changes that will make their life safer and more secure, so they can live as independently as possible.
Ensuring their safety and wellbeing begins with checking their home for trip hazards, sharp edges, slippery surfaces and poorly lit areas of the home. An occupational therapist can visit your parents’ home to evaluate its safety and recommend any changes.
They may need help getting from home to appointments or social engagements and back again, especially if they’ve stopped driving altogether. Have a chat about getting around using public transport or using online options for groceries, medications and other purchases, for convenience. Aged care support services can also be arranged through Mable, to provide transport for older Australians, and to take care of a wide range of other supports they may need.
Arranging an ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) assessment for your parents will evaluate their fitness to remain in their own home, and may find them eligible for a Home Care Package.
Learn more about how you can work with your parents or loved ones to help them build a safe, secure home and future.
Thinking about in-home aged care and support? Here’s the support you can find on Mable
When you think of aged care and support, you might picture something different to what applies to your parents’ current circumstances. Support looks different to different people. It can include social support, so that your loved ones have someone to take them out for a coffee, to church or to a community centre. An Independent Support Worker can help them learn a new skill such as painting or using the internet.
Domestic assistance is available to help keep their home in ship-shape, with light housekeeping, laundry, gardening and organising all on offer. Independent living is made easier through support in the form of maintaining daily routines, getting to and from appointments, and managing personal admin like bills and correspondence.
If your parent has a condition like diabetes, incontinence or stroke, in-home nursing care is available to help with management and medication. And other allied health therapies can perform home visits, such as speech pathologists, occupational therapists and physios. There are support workers who have qualifications in dementia care, and others who excel in more generalised aged care.
Mable connects older Australians with more than 15,000 independent support workers, all of whom undergo rigorous checks to be able to provide support through the platform.
Log on to Mable today to start planning for aged care support for yourself or your loved one.