We take every measure possible to keep our older loved ones safe, but we cannot be there 24/7/365. Karen, Victoria
Karen’s mum, Mary, is in her seventies. Since her husband passed away, she has lived alone on the family farm in rural Victoria. She’s fiercely independent and can do most things on her own. She never asks for, or accepts, much – if any – help from Karen or her younger brother Mark.
Mary’s children do visit as often as they can, but both live almost 100km away, and have active teenage children with busy weekend schedules. Getting to the farm to provide the support she needs during the week would mean missing a day of work, because of the long round-trip.
“One of mum’s favourite things is her garden,” Karen says. “One day, I found her up a ladder cleaning the gutters, and visions of her falling or hurting herself flashed before me. While we take every measure possible to keep our older loved ones safe, we cannot be there 24/7/365, and being in a remote area, it could take a long time before someone would realise she needed help if she did have an accident.”
Karen decided then and there that her mum should really be getting some support at home, even if it was only to do the more labour-intensive tasks.
Then came the hard part, Karen knew that she would be faced with objections when suggesting that her mum needed some help. “I had a few clumsy attempts to talk to mum, but I remained persistent and tried to find some common ground.
“Before my father passed away, he was the recipient of a Home Care Package. I reminded mum of how wonderful and helpful the services were not only to him, but also to her.” In fact, the people that helped to care for Karen’s dad became good friends of the family, and many of them attended his funeral. “I think that this was what eventually got her over the line.”
It can be extremely tough to convince parents or loved ones that it might be time to accept some help around the house, and the issue can often trigger fall outs, particularly for adult children who are left to pick up the pieces, or may attempt to provide the necessary level of care themselves. It’s something that the Advisers at Care Connect hear often.
But, don’t go in and demand change, do what Karen did – ease in slowly and be persistent. Take your time to encourage your loved ones to focus on their own hobbies, instead of doing chores or other tasks around the home – now that the gutters are cleaned, garden pruned or housework is done for them (for example).
There are a range of government-funded home care support programs available which mean that you don’t need to necessarily apply for a Home Care Package straight away. In Mary’s case, Karen was able to organise an assessment for the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), which is an entry-level program that provides basic services, less frequently, for those that only need a little help.
Getting Mary started with CHSP was relatively quick. It may have taken about three months to get her to agree, but once the process was underway, it was only six weeks from assessment to services being delivered.
Two key things that Karen recommends about getting government-funded support is that you attend the assessment, or if you can’t, that you ask the assessor to call you after the visit: “I don’t think our loved ones are truly honest with the assessors,” she says. “I’m certain that most, like mum, would tell people that everything was fine, mainly out of pride. Being at the assessment means that you can have a more honest conversation and point out where you believe support is needed. It’s teamwork.”
The family now has more time to connect, and Karen and Mark are happy that their mum no longer ventures up the ladder! They love seeing her beam as she points out all of the blossoming flowers as they wander through the garden together, and share cups of tea in her favourite shady spot on the lawn.
As for the future? As Mary grows older, her needs are changing, but Karen feels relieved that her mum has already started her aged care journey and is grateful for her Client Adviser. Mary and her family are now working with their Care Connect Adviser to develop her Care Plan to include a Home Care Package.
“It’s never too early to start planning – don’t wait until something happens,” Karen says.
If you’re like Karen and Mark and have an independent loved one that could benefit from a little, or more support at home, Care Connect can help. From assisting with the application process to being a trusted independent adviser that has the expertise to help with planning, budgeting, and providing the care to keep your loved one safe, Care Connect supports you so that your loved ones can continue to live happily at home, and in their community.