The move into residential aged care is a major transition for all the family. Some people happily plan for their future and choose to move into an aged care facility while others despite becoming increasingly frail prefer to remain at home.
When the move into an aged care home happens suddenly
Unfortunately many ageing people and their families are forced to look at residential aged care when there is a crisis. Making major decisions at already stressful times can exacerbate any feelings of loss of control.
Families can be pressured into finding a suitable aged care home within a short period of time with limited choice. This can leave many adult children feeling guilty for “dumping a loved one in a nursing home” and the move all the more traumatic.
When family disagree about an aged care home
The decision to place a loved one in residential aged care can create conflict amongst family members, especially if everyone doesn’t agree on the move. Siblings often disagree on care arrangements, placing extra pressure on the family member making the decision.
Always try and think about an older family member’s own values and preferences. Don’t make a decision based on what you would prefer for yourself.
It can help to have a family conference early on. Discuss with an older family member their plans and hopes for the future and talk about the issues together. These discussions can be difficult but they will help guide you when the time comes.
When a family member refuses to move into an aged care home
Although your motives may be well meaning, attempting to place a loved one into residential aged care against their wishes can also create much tension and family conflict. Some people will naturally resist if they think they are being “pushed into a nursing home”.
Telling your parents that you are concerned with their wellbeing and pointing out why you are worried about them being at home by themselves can help. Be realistic of the dangers of a loved one being at home alone.
Try making decisions with your parent, not for them. Talk about the positives of moving into residential care and use the move as a solution to their problems.
Having someone intervene that is not emotionally connected to the family can help. Try talking to a social worker or aged care assessment team.
Benefits of respite care
Residential respite care is often a good way of introducing a loved one to the possible move to a nursing home. It allows a person and the family time to adjust to the changes such a move will bring.
Establishing relationships with nursing staff and feeling comfortable in another environment can be an important step toward permanent residential aged care.
It is natural to feel a range of emotions when moving into a nursing home and everyone will react differently. Most people adapt well over time and see the positive in their given situation.
Coping with emotions about aged care homes
Carers need time to come to terms with the move to residential care and will have mixed feelings. It is important to seek out help of residential staff, counsellors and friends in similar situations for advice and moral support.
Expect to feel many emotions when a loved one enters a nursing home. These feelings are a natural reaction to loss. At times you may feel guilty, anxious, relieved or worried. If you are concerned about a family member, try calling an aged care home and express your concerns.