You can read a sample of the book here…
IT’S TRICKY BEING PART OF THE SANDWICH GENERATION.
Why are we called that? It’s simple – we’re sandwiched between our kids who are possibly still finding their way and our parents who are possibly losing theirs.
When reading 5 Easy Ways to Solve the Aged Care Puzzle, stories may sound all too familiar. You may think I’m zeroing in on your family.
Trust me, I’m not because my stories come from a variety of places around the globe in western civilisations.
It’s so important for you to realise that you’re not alone in this tricky transitional journey. Many of your friends and colleagues may also be perplexed with the issues of impending Aged Care for their loved ones.
Talk with them, talk with the type of professionals mentioned in this book and make the process easier. It doesn’t have to be hard. Talking can ease what you’re going through.
Imagine the process being easy, because you enlisted the help of professionals who do this every day and know all the tips and tricks of this ever-changing process.
Moving a loved one into Aged Care is not a Set and Forget process. It requires follow-up with the Aged Care Home staff , observation of changes, continuing to pay bills and shopping for incidentals, but your loved one will be safe.
And if you’ve been involved in full-time care for a loved one, you’ll possibly find that after 24/7 care is over, you may begin to remember the funnier moments.
WHERE TO BEGIN
The sands of time that once careered recklessly through the hourglass at lightening speed, have now slowed to a trickle – so slowly that one grain descends through her slender waist at a time.
Gramps and Nan once had a bustling household, with children coming and going. Their driveway resembled a parking lot, with vehicles moving in and out all weekend as the kids socialised. On weeknights titbits of information were exchanged around the dinner table as they ate their meat and three veg!
During the week, Gramps had a business to run. His evenings were spent making follow-up phone calls on an old black springy spiral corded phone in the corner of the breakfast bar bench. A polished timber chair with padded floral green vinyl upholstery was used as the Managing Director’s office chair by night and as a place for one of his youngsters to breakfast by day.
But this was now a distant memory, for all the children had long since married, moved away and had families of their own.
Polly, their eldest arrived one day to find some papers on the dining table – papers for a new electricity company with whom her parents had never dealt. “What are these Mum?” Polly enquired.
“A nice young man came to the door and said he could sell me cheaper electricity and I thought that was a good idea. We like to save for a rainy day. He said he needed to see the invoices from the people who supply the electricity now, so I brought him in and we sat at the table for him and his friend to have a look. They were such nice lads. They filled in all the forms and I just had to tell them my credit card numbers and sign the forms.”
“Do you want a cup of coffee?” Nan asked as she wandered into the kitchen. She filled the kettle with water, turned it on then went on with another story as Polly watched. Her Mum couldn’t connect the dots with this simple procedure that she’d performed thousands of times before. She seemed flummoxed by talking and trying to remember that she needed the jar of coffee, two mugs, a spoon and the milk.
As this simple observation was being filed away in Polly’s mind, she took over making the coffees and gently suggested that her Mum sit at the table.
And so the story goes for families around the world. This book should allow you to feel that your situation is not freaky or unique, but rather a path that you are walking that will one day pass, but for now may be all-consuming.
The stories told in the latter half of the book are all true and all too common.
Take heart … you are about to read of some professionals who can make your lives so much easier, if you just enlist their help.
A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER
before reading what the professionals have to say.
“I’ll look after her while I can,” a common comment when talking to someone about the next stage of their parent’s life. Taking on the role of a full time carer is more difficult than one may think.
Carefully consider whether to look after a loved one at home or to place them in an Aged Care Home. Providing 24/7 care at home for an elderly relative is a much more challenging task than one may think – no matter how congenial the person may be. Even if siblings agree to share in a rotation of care, this may not be sustainable long-term.
Can your family do it –
- Considering the impact on the family
- Without leaving it to one sibling
When working through the process of choosing a location for permanent care for your parent, place their needs and wishes first – not yours. What kind of home would suit them best and in what suburb or rural town?
Remember that your children may be arranging care for you in the future and you will want your wishes to be considered, so do the same for your loved ones.
If at all possible see if you and your siblings can get onto the same page when considering what’s best for Mum or Dad and their future care.
As Dad’s movement was severely limited due to Motor Neurone Disease, he was still resisting spending money on the electric wheelchair that he needed. “I’m saving that money for a rainy day,” he would say. He finally relented when the family said to him, “It’s bucketing with rain right now.” It was only then that he saw he needed to part with some of his hard-earned cash to buy the wheelchair that very soon became a great friend.
Having said that, it’s not easy to help an elderly person to make that mindset shift, to break with a paradigm they may have held for over half a century!
Be prepared for the phone calls. It’s all too common that children may receive repeated phone calls when their elderly relative doesn’t have anyone or anything to occupy their time.
A friend of mine received a phone call at exactly 8.15am each morning when her father-in-law didn’t have anything on his calendar.
“Hello. How are you?” he’d begin. “What are you doing?” His daughter-in-law, who worked from home, would reply, “I’m at my desk working.”
“That’s right, you’re always busy!” he barked down the phone.
He never rang other family members, as they worked for an employer, but he knew she would always respond to his wishes for an excursion, company or whatever.
His life of Social Isolation was becoming more obvious, but he was resistant to being picked up on a community bus or to going to activities unless his dutiful daughter-in-law took him.
After all … she didn’t have a real job!
Start the wardrobe clear out as soon as you notice signs of change. It took me many approaches with my mother-in-law before she would agree to allow me to help sort through her clothes. She had to get her head around parting with outfits and shoes that represented her life in the past.
One day she happily agreed to work on the de-clutter, but it was a slow painful process for us both. Some clothes were plainly too large for this diminishing elderly lady, but others needed to be tried on for size. Slowly this task was undertaken, with much assistance, whilst the history of the garment or the event to which it was worn was told, in intricate detail.
After several slow and painstaking episodes, we claimed victory over the mammoth task. 32 pairs of almost unworn shoes and our Magna car backseat, piled 18 inches high, took three trips to the charity shop!
Tackle the wardrobe and chests of drawers as soon as you get an inkling that a move may be looming.
The Practical Side – Introducing all the professionals who can help
Where to begin?
A few things to consider
Meet the professionals
Professional No 1 Meet a professional organiser
Professional No 2 Meet a mobile lawyer who makes things easy
Professional No 3 Meet an aged care placement consultant
Professional No 4 Meet an aged care fi nancial planner – timing is critical
Professional No 5 Meet a funeral director
Professional Help ~ Bonus information
And here’s how it is in real life
Anecdotes from real life – A peek into the lives of others who have walked this path
A nurse and a daughter
The ageing story of Joan Maclean
Depression may be Contagious
Yes officer – Whatever you say
You’re talking about our elderly aunt!
I won’t take my clothes off !
A kind and quirky thing to do