Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Personal reflections from the other side of Aged Care

My grandfather, who is 98 this year, has recently entered an Aged Care facility.  I could bore you with the details of the RAD, the fact that he has a qualifying pension (WWII veteran), or how the family has decided to rent out the family home.  All of these facts are relevant, and very important when my Father, who is sole Enduring Power of Attorney, approached me for help (convenient having an Aged Care Specialist in the family, hey Dad), but none of them really tell the real story.

The real story is this: my Grandmother died three years ago, and, despite the efforts of my Mother and two Aunts, my Grandfather spent the majority of his time by himself.  My Grandfather has always been the strong patriarch of the family, and watching him suffer cognitive decline of his once sharp wits, has been hard on the children.  As in many family situations, they could not reconcile that this, increasingly, frail old man was their father, and so resisted my Father's urging to look into care.  Without united family support, my Father only had two options, to bide his time or forcibly step in, which would have been more traumatic for my Grandfather.  And so, for better or worse, he waited until the inevitable hospital visit where the good Doctor refused to discharge him.

Now, for the happy ending.  After all the tears, what-iffing and hesitation, my Grandfather is happily settled in.  He spends his time playing the piano in the common area lounge, eats well (the food is fantastic), and is socialising with his peers.  He no longer needs to worry about when to take his medication, pay a bill or decide to mow his lawn.  My Grandfather can now relax and live out his days in dignity, in a community where he does not feel like a burden.

My family are not horrible or mean people, but the question that comes to my mind is how many other families are condemning their parents to a half-life where they spend their time alone, day in and out?  Where they are constantly waiting for a visit, a phone call, or for someone to take them grocery shopping?  I can only hope that when I am in this same situation, my Daughter stands up and makes the decision to improve my quality of life, no matter how querulous I may be.  After all, isn't that what I do for her now?

By Erin Wright B.Int Bus Dip. FS(FP), Accredited Aged Care Specialist
Find Erin at Achieveit Financial Planning or call for an appointment on 07 4638 5011


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