There’s a growing trend among senior citizens known as “ageing in place”. As the number of Australians aged 65 and older continues to rise, so too does the number of older Australians who wish to stay in their own homes. And for very good reason. Research shows multiple benefits to staying in your own home as you grow older, from retaining a sense of independence, routine and control to simply enjoying the comforts of one’s own bed. But perhaps most importantly, maintaining a sense of community and social interaction is absolutely vital to living a longer, healthier life. Here are a few steps you can take to help your parents remain safe and well while staying exactly where they are.
Maintaining a sense of community and social interaction is vital to living a longer, healthier life.
Determine whether they need assistance
You need to be on the lookout for signs that indicate one or both of them is struggling to cope, such as changes in appetite or eating habits, neglect around the home or their personal presentation, a tendency towards forgetfulness or a decline in mobility – notably, if they’ve had any slipping or falling incidents. Along with other close family members, you should also plan to have a frank conversation about their wellbeing and their long-term wishes and needs.
Make sure they’re getting the right financial support
Along with the Age Pension, the Australian Government offers payments and services for older Australians that you or your parents might not know about. These include the Pensions Loans Scheme (a reverse-mortgage provision that allows people of pension age to borrow against their housing equity), the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and Rent Assistance. Find out about energy concessions and rebates, too, on the Concessions page at EnergyAustralia.
Arrange for in-home care
Whether in-home care means a little day-to-day assistance with meal preparation and housework or more comprehensive physical and medical care, the Commonwealth Home Support Programme offers a number of home care packages that range from basic to high-care needs. Recent government changes to aged care funding now allow the consumer to direct the money to their chosen provider, meaning more choice and flexibility. A good place to start is Help at Home on the Australian Government’s My Aged Care website.
Dealing with your parents’ ageing is more than a logistical challenge. As they continue to get older and their needs change over time, you’re likely to experience an emotional toll too.
Make sure you’re getting the care you need, too
Dealing with your parents’ ageing is more than a logistical challenge. As they continue to get older and their needs change over time, you’re likely to experience an emotional toll – it’s not easy watching your mum and dad become fragile and succumb to the limitations that ageing can bring. You can only support them if you feel supported, too, so be sure to do whatever it takes to look after yourself – seek help from siblings, turn to family and friends, and maintain your own health through diet, exercise and getting enough sleep. If you need more help, Carer Gateway offers a number of resources and services as well as an opportunity to just talk.