When You Can no Longer Provide Care for Your Loved One

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There are two main choices for those that can no longer provide care for their elderly loved one. You can get help with care in your own home or you can put your loved one into residential care.

This article was originally published by our friends at COTA.

In-home care

There are many organisations that provide services for in home care. Home care support workers can help with caring tasks such as bathing, dressing, mobility, meals, toileting and more. They may come to your home every day or when required.

A home care support worker can often help you and the person you care for to stay in your home longer. However, sometimes your loved one may need more care than they (and you) can provide at home.

Residential care

Depending on your loved ones condition, various types of residential care may be available for them to live and be supported:

  • Residential aged care can provide accommodation and personal care 24 hours a day as well as access to nursing and health care services for elderly people.
  • Residential disability care can provide accommodation and support to people with disability or mental illness.
  • Hospice care focuses on quality of life for people who are experiencing an advanced, life limiting illness.

At some stage, as a carer, you may have to deal with the reality that you can no longer care for your loved one. This may be due to their health needs being beyond your capability, your own health issues or a range of other reasons. No matter what the reason, the difficult decision can be fraught with anguish, guilt and uncertainty.

However, there are ways to make the decision and process smoother and less stressful:

Consider your loved one’s needs

The first step in deciding to put a loved one into care is to consider their needs. Do they require round-the-clock care or just a few hours of help each day? Are they able to manage their own medications, or do they need assistance with this task? Do they have any medical conditions that require specialised care? By understanding your loved one’s needs, you can better assess whether in-home care or a care facility is the best option.

Talk to your loved one

It’s important to involve your loved one in the decision-making process. Have an open and honest conversation with them about their care needs and how they feel about potentially moving into a care facility. Be sure to listen to their concerns and preferences. They may be resistant to the idea of leaving their home, but it’s important to explain why this may be necessary for their health and well-being.

Research care facilities

If you decide that a care facility is the best option for your loved one, it’s important to research potential options. Look for facilities that meet your loved one’s needs and preferences, such as location, specialised care services, and amenities. Make a list of the top contenders and schedule tours to visit each facility. During the tours, ask as many questions as you can and observe the environment and staff interactions with current residents.

Financial Costs

Residential care facilities can be expensive, so it’s important to discuss financial options with your loved one. This may include using savings or applying for government assistance. Make sure to review all the options and their associated costs to find the best solution.

Take care of yourself

It’s easy to become overwhelmed and stressed when making the decision to put a loved one into care. Remember to take care of yourself and seek help if you need it. This may include taking breaks from caregiving, or delegating caregiving tasks to other family members or professional caregivers. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to make the best decision for your loved one.

Making the decision to put a loved one into care can be challenging, but with careful consideration, research, and communication, it can be easier. Remember to prioritise your loved one’s needs and preferences, and involve them in the decision-making process, along the way and give yourself a break if you need.

Sometimes the biggest barrier to putting a loved one into residential care is the feeling of guilt. Here are some key points that can make you feel better about your decision and relieve some guilt:

  • Your loved one will be properly cared for, around the clock
  • Care facilities are well equipped with safety equipment, ensuring your loved ones safety
  • There is a registered nurse on call throughout the day
  • The staff are fully trained and specialise in caring for the elderly
  • You can regularly visit and take your loved ones on outings
  • You can call on the days you can’t visit
  • Residential care homes are social environments with regular planned activites
  • Full time residential care has many benefits, including all meals being taken care of, someone will help with bathing and grooming, they are secure and safe, there is access to specialists and much more!
  • Your stress levels will drop!

Self care for carers

To avoid carer stress and burnout and to be the best carer you can be, it’s important to look after yourself too. Here are some self care tips for caregivers

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Spend time with friends
  • Join a support group
  • Take breaks each day
  • Make time for your hobbies
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Get counselling
  • Eat well and drink plenty of water
  • Take time every day for yourself
  • Get enough sleep every night
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  1. My wife and I are both 81 years old. We have both received a level 2 ACAT assessment, although I have declined mine because of the income tested fee we would both have to pay. We are currently awaiting an available place at a retirement village, but until then, I have to maintain our 33-acre property. I am concerned my wife occasionally shows signs of mild dementia, either forgetting what has been said, or not fully comprehending anything to do with home care packages and who does what (she argues with me sometimes, fully convinced she does know and I am wrong!) Conversely, she remembers well past events and is able to write and publish articles and books. Her GP doesn’t seem to think she has any problem with her annual assessments. I would be interested in any material to do with early onset of dementia and how I can best deal with arguments other than resorting to “Whatever!” whenever I know it is useless to try and explain why she is mistaken. I sometimes wish I could receive sympathetic support but do not have anyone to talk to. Also, I feel it would be disloyal to share this with either of our two sons. As a committed Christian, I do find strength through prayer. Grateful for any response you can offer.

    1. I feel for you I my self had my husband assessed last year was given Commonwealth Home Care .which I Never received any conformation on until the end of the year.when he was Diagnosed with Alzheimer.by A Neurologist .by him doing Pet Scan ..Dr Did Refferal to ACAT team for Comprehensive Assessment .which they would not do only a RAS Assessment for CHCS. which is different .it is what they Originaly gave him ,they ask why I did not access it.I could not As I was not notified.I suggest you get a referral to A Geriatrican Aged person Specialist He will do as Kognitive Assessment .and that helps also ask for Pet Scan this show there is something Happening but not what is happening .Also A Neurologist is also one to help. Good luck all the best .

    2. Hi, David
      My name is Diane , i have been looking my mum for 9 years , casual, part time , now fulltime , My agedcare is really good to join 1800200422. Plus you can ring lifeline anytime 24/7
      There is so much helpout there , but some of the help is by talking to your Chemist.
      The onset of dementia is very critical with how to handel you wife
      Do not yell at her with your frustration.
      Your wife doesn’t realise what is going on with her memory.
      If you wife can not find something , help her find it . Believe me people put things in the strangest places..
      Your wife will have no sence of time , work with her when its breakie , lunch and dinner.
      Put little notes around on how to make a cup of tea , etc

      This is going to sound really weird to you , but your wife is going back to becoming a child.
      When she hasnot interest in cooking , help her peel the vegetables, put the oven on ..Later your wife will not be able to put a meal together .
      Read up on all the differant stages of dementia. My mum has Vasular, i know everytime her brain has had a stroke and mum has lost the ability to do another activity..
      Remember and it is going to be very hard . Never yell at your wife ..Work with her , when she blames you for stealing things , find them put them back where they belong and show her ..my mum would blame my hubby of stealing money . But we used to right down on a peice of paper with the date and the amount mum had in her purse.

      My heart goes out to any one going through this with there family.
      We , my husband and i have not had a break for 7 years , we are careers for both my parents and unfortunately my father is a very hard narcissistic person . We are on call 24/7 days a week .I cook a full lunch for them for 12noon on the dot . Its easy for people to say oh put them in respite ..lol that is never going to happen ..
      We have lost all contact with so called friends cause we are not the fun couple any more ..I have two siblings lol , they won’t even give me a weekend break , but keep asking about the will for both parents ..
      I will never regreat looking after my parents , but what is killing me is watching mymum turn into a two year old . I dress her morning and in the afternoon , change her nappy , clean up her mess daily she has lost her continess , lucky i lost my sence of smell some years ago ..
      I have to show her how to wash her face , brush her teeth , put her false teeth in . Cook there meals in a slow cooker for the meat to be soft. Mum has a walker in the house and a wheelchair when we take her out for lunch ..I order her a kids meal ..
      We have bibs at home for mum..
      Never ever forget how ever hard it gets , never never yell at her
      Mum has been graded 4
      We have 3 beautiful ladies come three days a week to shower her .
      Ihad to fight my dad tooth and nail to get that help ..We have now been the waiting list for 4 months for more government help ..
      There is always a help line , i think there might be one for dementia..
      The most important thing to remember is , she is still your wife and she can not help that her brain is dying

  2. Hello David, my name is Anne-Marie, and together with my Mum, we have overseen my Fathers decline in mental facility. His dementia was diagnosed in the rooms of a neurosurgeon after scans of his brain picked up hydrocephalus. It has affected his gait and urinary continence, as well as his memory and cognitive function. The colloquial term is Hackam’s Triad.
    Mum is very good at defusing Dad’s frustrations and fixations but just reassuring him that all will be well, and that he has the right ideas. It’s tough on her. It gets hard when he wanders around the house at night and she is so tired. He is going into respite care for the first time soon and my parents are selling up to be in a smaller place closer to help. My parents have been very open with their difficulties and my daughters and their husbands call in, help, sit with Dad, and are with us in the care of both Mum n Dad.
    Best wishes with your journey. A

In Need of Support?

Carer Gateway is an Australian Government program providing free services and support for carers. Call Carer Gateway for support and access to services, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm local time.

Assistance with accessing emergency respite is available any time, 24/7.

1800 422 737 

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