Moving into an aged care facility for many residents can bring with it many mixed emotions of having to upheave the previous life and lifestyle to a new facility and home.
For many families the mixed emotions can be felt by all involved. From guilt, relief and anguish all at once.
From the elderly persons perspective who is having to come to terms with their new environment and routine or being a child who is seeking the best for their mum or dad, so many emotions can be ricocheting around as you all try to figure it out.
It can be helpful to have a few techniques up your sleeve as you approach this stage of life as a family.
Many families have gone through this and spoken of the challenge of wanting to keep their loved one safe and at the same time acknowledging that their parents don’t want to leave the home they’ve loved for decades.
It is important to note that this is a complex time and to feel overwhelmed and confused, while not easy, is normal.
Here are some tips for approaching this stage and loving each other through it.
Even while it may have come to the stage where it isn’t safe for your elderly loved one to remain at home, their hesitations from moving to residential care are real and should be acknowledged.
Countless psychologists have spoken into the crucial needs humans have to feel heard and understood.
While we may not be able to change our physical situation or abilities, one of the core components that bring peace to human minds is the awareness that we are understood.
An idea might be to have a special family dinner where your loved one gets to express everything that is on their heart, with no interruptions and over their favourite meal.
We often like to interject in difficult conversations to say, “don’t worry, it’ll be ok” or “this is only for your best” but that can take away from their need to have their say, to speak out loud their concerns.
Include your loved one in the planning, discussion and review of aged care facilities.
Through inclusion a person is able to feel dignified, heard and useful. It is to be their home after all, to have a say in what elements they prioritise in a facility and even to enjoy the ‘vibe’ or a place, may help with some of the feelings of fear, frustration or discomfort.
If your loved one is feeling sad and even shedding a few tears, allow yours to flow as well.
Even just saying, “I know mum” while you go in for a big hug can be more comforting than anything else.
Leaving what they have known for decades involves a myriad of emotions and processes that are hard.
One of them is grieving.
Allow for and be there when your loved one is sad about the future change. Be a constant in their life that they can rely on.
Many elderly people in aged care have said the most important thing for them is contact and special, quality time with their loved ones.
If you can assure your loved one of your presence in their life throughout this whole transition time, it may help to ease their pain.
Encourage all the members of your family to make as much time as possible to see your elderly loved one.
Encourage friends and family to rally around them in this time of change.
When people feel supported, loved and cared for and if difficult times can be navigated with help, the path can sometimes be easier. Make frequent calls into the aged care facility to help with the transition time.
Start planning for how to make your loved ones new spot to feel like home.
Create a ‘precious box’ with special blankets, pictures frames, drawings from grandchildren, knick knacks from favourite holidays.
Being able to see and touch things of importance may help to ease feelings of unfamiliarity and loneliness.
Getting the family together to make a special poster, complete with handprints in paint and misspelled ‘I wuv u granma’ that can be hung on their wall can be a heart-warming touch.
Considering aged care for yourself or a loved one? We’re here to help.