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Should your parent move into a nursing home?

Many families agonize over moving a parent into nursing home care (also known as residential care).

For some families, the consideration of a nursing home comes after a sudden stroke or fracture of the hip, making caring for an elderly parent at home seem impossible to manage.

Caring for a parent with chronic or degenerative disease may continue over many years. As their health deteriorates they will usually require more nursing care than you can realistically provide.

How to pay for the cost of care

Everyone’s situation will be unique. Some people have the support of family and friends others have unlimited finances to purchase private in-home care. It’s worth knowing that the Australian Government provides many subsidised local services to support older people to continue living in their own home. Find out more at My Aged Care or 1800 200 422.

Nursing at home

It’s worthwhile knowing that most of the care services provided in a nursing home can be provided at home. Mable is a community of care workers who can be hired directly to provide social and domestic assistance, personal care or nursing. Again, the government can provide generous subsidies to offset the cost of hiring your own care worker. Find out more at My Aged Care or 1800 200 422.

Understand what type of care is needed

The decision to move mum or dad into a nursing home is usually based on a number of reasons:

  • Caring for mum or dad is affecting a carer’s own health and family life.
  • Mum and dad live together, but the poor health of one of them is affecting the health of the other.
  • Mum and/or dad need 24 hour care and supervision.
  • Problems with incontinence, mobility and personal hygiene.
  • Difficulties managing dementia behaviours such as aggression and wandering.
  • Problems with medications.
  • Concerns about safety due to loss of capacity, judgment and memory loss.
  • Mum or dad is malnourished, depressed and socially isolated.

Identify local support services

When considering a nursing home, find out if you are able to draw on local resources, if so, the best choice for now might not even be a nursing home. There are many local services offering to assist you as well as your mum and dad. A home care agency can be hired, but their fees may be out of reach for most. Independent care workers can also be hired very affordably. Along with government subsidies, hiring a care worker directly from Mable’s community of independent care workers can make it possible for your mum or dad continue to live at home.

It’s important to discuss with you mum or dad their expectations and preferences and include them in family decision making. You may be surprised to find they are also concerned about feeling like a burden to the family. Most often, older people don’t want to leave their home – because that’s where they feel safe and comfortable.

You may consider the option of moving your parent in with your family to live. This is often welcome by all family members, but do consider getting in-home support and accessing local services as the responsibility of looking after a person who is ageing can quickly become overwhelming.

Friends that have been through similar experiences will be able to give you the support and guidance that you need. Keep in mind that everyone will have their own opinion and that you must decide what is right for your family.

Take care of yourself too

Remind yourself that you need to take care of your own health in order to provide your mum or dad with the love and support they need. Knowing they are getting the proper care they need can free you up to concentrate on your other family members, friendships or career.

Get advice

If you are still uncertain, talk to your their doctor or the local Aged Care Assessment Team who are usually attached to the local hospital and can be referred by a doctor or by contacting My Aged Care the Australian Government’s aged care contact centre on 1800 200 422. My Aged Care is a referral centre who can put you in touch with local services who are funded by the government to provide assistance to the aged in their communities, such as respite for carers, transportation, meals, housekeeping and personal care.

Do explore all your options before considering a nursing home. Knowing you did everything possible before moving your mum or dad into an aged care home will make you feel more comfortable about taking this action if this ever becomes necessary.

You can also privately hire additional care workers to visit your mum or dad in a nursing home – which nursing homes welcome as they are usually rushed off their feet.

Try talking to a counsellor, aged care assessment team or doctor. They can give you an objective opinion about how much care you and other family members can realistically provide.

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