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Five signs it’s time to talk about residential aged care

If you’re supporting an older parent, grandparent or other loved one, you might not be sure when it’s the right time to start talking about residential aged care. You could be feeling a bit overwhelmed, or have noticed that they seem to be needing a bit more help these days, but unsure whether you’re ready to suggest the next step.

Here are some common signs you may recognise that indicate home care may no longer be the best option for your loved one. If you notice one or more of these signs, it’s important that you start the conversation with them about residential aged care.

Sign 1: Carer stress

If you’re doing the majority of caring for your older parent or loved one, that can be a lot of pressure. If it’s impacting your own health or wellbeing then it might be time to think about services beyond home care. You might find you’re needing to take your mum to the toilet at all hours so you’re not getting enough sleep, or you’ve been helping her to shower every day and you’ve started to experience back pain.

Sign 2: An increase in emergency episodes

An increase in the number of ‘emergency episodes’ – like falls, medication mishaps or needing hospital care – or a greater frequency over a shorter period of time can indicate that your loved one’s mobility or cognitive skills are declining. If this is the case it is important to discuss their care options with them as soon as possible, before a serious injury occurs.

Sign 3: Increased use of respite care

If your loved one is spending more time at a respite centre than they used to, it may be because their needs are becoming unmanageable in the home with the support of home care services alone. It may also indicate that you need more support as a carer, because you have conflicting priorities with the needs of other family members, or your own health and wellbeing is suffering.

Sign 4: Noticeable changes in behaviour

If your loved one is living with a condition that impacts cognitive abilities such as dementia, their behaviour can change substantially over time.

If your loved one lives alone, it may be harder to notice these changes, but there are some key signs to watch out for that may indicate more intensive care is required, such as:

  • regular medicine mishaps – your loved one may be forgetting to take medication or taking the wrong dose even when aided by regular nurse visits
  • signs of social isolation – a decline in mobility, hearing, sight or other abilities can impact motivation to be social with others
  • poor food hygiene – perishable food such as meat may be left out on the bench, or eaten after its expiry date
  • weight loss – forgetting to eat could be a reason for weight loss
  • care is no longer welcome – your loved one may have a change in attitude towards assistance. If there is resistance to help, it may be due to frustration their own decreasing ability to live independently.

Sign 5: A Home Care Package (HCP) no longer meets their needs

When a Level 4 HCP isn’t covering your loved one’s care needs, and if they’re unable to privately pay for the extra care they require at home, it’s a good idea to start talking about their residential aged care options.

Changes may be gradual over a long period of time, so looking out for these signs will help you consider if residential aged care or another option, such as respite or more intensive care, may be the best outcome.

We are here for support you

As one of Queensland’s most experienced and trusted not-for-profit organisations, Anglicare Southern Queensland has a proven reputation for delivering an exceptional standard of service to senior members of our Queensland community and their families.

We understand there are many things to consider when it’s time to consider respite care or joining an aged care community. To learn more about your options or to arrange a tour of one of residential aged care homes near you, call our team today on 1300 610 610.

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