If you were lucky, your parents did as much as they could to make your childhood safe and easy. So, when the tables are turned and living in their own home without assistance means your mum and dad aren’t safe and life isn’t easy, you no doubt want to ensure they get the helping hand they need.
Your parents might not acknowledge this need themselves, though – this fiercely independent generation of people can find it hard to admit that they need help of any kind. That’s why many loving adult children find they have to step in to negotiate in-home care for their mum and dad.
If you have elderly parents, you might find yourself in this situation sooner or later, because as a person gets older, their capacity to care for themselves often declines. Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signals that your loved ones need a helping hand to continue an independent life.
The signs home care may be required generally fit into four areas: physical functions, household functions, personal appearance and cognitive abilities.
The physical signs are probably the most obvious. You may notice that their mobility is not quite what it used to be and they have difficulty walking swiftly, using the stairs or getting up from a seat.
Changes in personal appearance or the tidiness of the house can also be a physical sign all is not well. Was your loved one previously always well-groomed when you saw them, but now you’re noticing they aren’t wearing fresh clothes or that they’ve developed body odour? Did they use to take great pride in having everything spick and span, but now there are dirty dishes stacked up in the sink, the fridge is full of out-of-date food and the house is dusty or smells musty?
If the answer is yes, it may mean that they are having trouble completing everyday tasks like cleaning the house, doing the laundry and showering.
A decline in cognitive ability is another sign to look out for – but can be more difficult to identify. Take note if they can’t remember how to cook a long-time favourite dish or they’re repeatedly confused by a medication schedule. Another common signal is social withdrawal; have they stopped seeing friends and family whose company they used to enjoy?
It’s perfectly normal for your mum or dad to have a bad day where they’re simply frazzled and forgetful, or for them to pick up an injury or illness that temporarily stops them staying on top of household chores. But if you notice these types of changes in your parents over a longer period or that they’re increasing in frequency, it may be time to consider whether they require some regular assistance at home.
Most Australians prefer to grow old on their own terms in the comfort and familiarity of their own home, and it’s possible to do so safely and conveniently with the help of a home care provider.
The wide range of services available from premium providers mean it’s possible to access whatever support your loved one needs, from domestic chores such as house cleaning and gardening all the way up to complete round-the-clock care.
So if you’ve noticed your parent or partner is having difficulty doing some things they previously had no trouble with, and you feel it’s impacting their wellbeing or safety, you can help them find out from My Aged Care if they are eligible for government assistance in the form of a Home Care Package (HCP). HCPs heavily subsidise the cost of home care services for people who need assistance on an ongoing basis.
If you feel there is an urgent need for care, it’s still wise to contact My Aged Care because your loved one may be eligible for the Commonwealth Home Support Program, which provides funding for care on a short-term basis or while an applicant waits for a HCP to be approved.
Care can also be privately funded while your loved one waits for a HCP or if they prove ineligible for subsidised care.
While ascertaining your loved one’s funding situation, it’s advisable to start seeking an experienced home care provider that offers a wide range of services, as such a provider will be able to guide you and your loved one as their needs change and the number or type of services they need evolve.
Where possible, look for a provider that also offers respite care so that you, as a carer, also receive support. If your parent or partner only needs a little bit of help right now, this may not feel like a high priority, but if their needs change then it’s important you have a way to relieve stress and maintain balance in your life. Respite care services allow you to take a break and go out with friends or participate in a sport you love, knowing your loved one is safe and cared for even though you’re not around.
Lastly, it’s also important to find a carer that your loved one can establish a trusted relationship with, so look for a company that takes steps to ensure a good fit between client and carer and that offers continuity of service by arranging for clients to see the same carer as often as possible.
Your home care provider can even help you navigate the My Aged Care assessment and funding process.
Prestige Inhome Care is one such market-leading care provider.
Its range of services aren’t restricted to nursing or personal care but encompass a huge variety of services, ranging from domestic support, such as companionship, meal preparation and transport to appointments, to the tending of more intense care needs such as dementia care, palliative care and 24-hour in-home care, to in-home respite care.
Prestige also has a refined client-carer matching process and is an approved HCP provider, so you can access its services with government support (it offers a helpful step-by-step guide to applying for a HCP if you haven’t already started the process described above.) Prestige also offers privately funded care, so you can still get help while waiting for your HCP to be assigned.
Founded more than 20 years ago by former aged care nurse Nick McDonald, Prestige was born because McDonald was inspired by the difference that looking after his patients in their homes instead of a residential aged care facility could make to their lives.
“Supporting someone in their own home allows you to deliver a much more intimate service and really actually tailor your service for their individual needs,” he says.
“It allows you to understand who they are – you meet some of their family who can help fill in some of the gaps and give you some pieces of the puzzle – which really helps you as a nurse or a carer to deliver something that’s specifically targeted for that individual, and that has fantastic outcomes for the client.”
McDonald says Prestige’s approach to recruiting carers is to think ‘would I trust my own mother’s care to this person?’ – something that he and his siblings were very glad of when their mum needed home care and Prestige’s carers looked after her, as McDonald explains in this short video.
The tailored service Prestige delivers wins praise from clients who want to maintain their independence and dignity as they grow old in their own homes. For example, 91-year-old Anne Lawson lives independently in her own home with the help of Prestige. Anne’s daughter, Annette Charter, says the 24-hour care her mother receives from Prestige has “taken the pressure off all of my siblings and myself because now we can come to visit Mum when we’re able to”.
“We still have regular times that we come, but it just means people aren’t shuffling their lives around all the time and trying to figure out what to do,” Annette says.
“Prestige’s carers prepare her lunch, they do the dishes and wash her sheets. I don’t have to make her bed and change the sheets anymore, so we have more quality time together.”
If you’ve seen the signs that your mum, dad or partner may need some help at home and feel concerned, you do not need to wait until something potentially life-changing like a fall happens before you procure in-home care for your loved one.
In fact, many experts say it may be easier for them to acclimatise to having a carer come into their home regularly while they are still mostly independent and just need a little bit of help, than if it’s a sudden change forced on them by illness or injury.
So if you think your loved one could benefit from home care, don’t delay. Contact Prestige online or call 1300 10 30 10 today for personalised information on how its tailored care services could be just the helping hand they need.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.
Prestige Inhome Care is a private provider of industry-leading, tailored in-home care. For over 20 years, we’ve been helping Australians maintain their independence and keep being extraordinary. Contact us today for a free face-to-face consultation.