When a family member needs to go into Aged Care it can bring up a lot of issues for the whole family. Different people deal with a situation in different ways, so it is realistic to assume that when a family is faced with a parent going into care, each member will deal with the situation in a different way. Some may be accepting and realistic while others may fight against the process for their own reasons, being unable or unwilling to accept that this needs to happen. These differing attitudes have the potential to create turmoil within the family dynamic. Sometimes, when family members cannot agree, they place their loved one at risk and then a Guardian is appointed by VCAT. I have worked with many Guardians over the years and, though their first duty is to the person, they will always try to involve the family as much as possible, seeking constructive input but at the same time diffusing heated situations.
Grief can play a large part as well for both the parent going into care and the family members. Fortunately, there are counsellors trained to deal specifically with these situations. Often families will seek specialised counsellors to help the person going into care deal with their grief, which is sometimes taken out on their children. Some residents rail against their children for “locking them away”, which is very distressing for the families who have no other options. It brings to mind one resident I knew in a facility who would rant and rave at her daughter each time she visited, then smile and return to activities as though nothing had happened once her daughter had left in tears. Her daughter was a very “together” person but this brought her undone every time she visited over two years!
Another source of grief and stress is the need to sell the family home. After living in the home for most of their life, raising their family and working hard to pay it off it is like losing a loved one to sell up in order to move to into an Aged Care Facility. As mentioned in a previous blog it is well worth seeking advice from a Financial Planner who specialises in Aged Care to assess whether there are enough other assets to cover costs without selling the home. In my experience as an Aged Care Placement Consultant most clients do have to sell their homes, but it is still important to know their financial position prior to making decisions about suitable facilities. There are so many variable costs, such as cost of the room, a means tested fee and additional services charge to consider.
Being aware of the emotional upheavals this change in life circumstances can cause I am ready to refer clients and their families to appropriate professional support during the time I work with them as a Placement Consultant.