Whether the catalyst is a hospital admission, sudden onset of illness or general decline, finding appropriate extra support or full-time care can be stressful for families and consumers.
And now that people are more active and engaged in their senior years, demand has increased supply and there are more options to consider.
Mercy Health State manager Anita Ghose said there was no question people were healthier, more active, more aware and more involved in their own lives for longer than they had ever been in the past.
“This has led to a move away from the traditional medical model of aged care to a social and more qualitative model,” Ms Ghose said.
“People are entering into aged care and making decisions themselves without waiting for family to put them into care and once in residential care they are wishing to become more involved in how the home runs, how their lives will be and what each day will look like.”
Experts agree that armed with the right knowledge, it is possible to transition into care relatively unscathed and with peace of mind knowing that good decisions lead to better outcomes.
Juniper chief executive Vaughan Harding said there was help available to navigate the many choices people were now faced with when choosing appropriate support.
“Non-profit providers like Juniper are really focused on meeting people’s needs,” he said.
“Our staff work to empower individuals and enable their physical, emotional and intellectual wellbeing in a caring and supportive manner.
“We aim to achieve a good life for all our people and part of that is encouraging them to retain as much autonomy and control over decision-making as possible.”
Ms Ghose said very few people moved to aged-care facilities out of choice but with proper planning, it was possible to retain power.
“There are often negative feelings related to residential aged-care homes, people see this as reaching the point of no return and that they are giving up all their possessions and freedom,” she said.
“Often the decision is a forced one due to a significant change in either physical health or wellbeing concerns such as a stroke, fall resulting in injury, continence or mobility issues, memory loss, unsafe behaviour.”
She said it was strange that people planned for significant events such as marriage and raising children but planning for aged care was not generally considered and that approach needed to change because ageing was inevitable.
“No one likes to think about the realities of growing old in a society where more and more often the family is either not able, capable or not willing to take on the responsibility of care,” she said.
“Many wait until that final loss of independence before considering residential aged care. They wait until the fractured hip, the loss of memory, the failing eyesight, and only then do they start looking for a suitable home.
“The situation we see, time and time again, is the distraught family member who has been told by the hospital they have only a few days to secure a suitable place before their loved one will be discharged.
“And then the concern is that instead of finding a community that is the right fit for the prospective resident, they have to take the place with the only vacancy left at the time.
“But really families should be talking about the future at the earliest opportunities, and we should all be planning for what is an inevitable part of life.”
She said there was less reason than ever before to avoid the topic.
Residential aged-care homes had changed markedly in recent years and the focus was now on a lifestyle and wellbeing model of care.
New aged-care facilities were now being built based on resident needs and choices rather than what was easiest for staff.
“We are seeing more homes adopting the smaller-scale living model which provides a greater sense of home and community,” she said.
“Aged care has evolved faster and more dramatically than any other health-care sector. People used to view aged care as the last place they wanted to either live or work in.
“The workforce has also grown, become younger and more diverse. And with this injection of youth and diversity has come amazing opportunities and innovations.
“While other sectors, struggle to incorporate technological advances into their daily processes, aged care has been leading the way for quite some time.
“Walk into many aged-care homes today and you will see the cutting-edge technology they have to offer, from electronic software that allows us to monitor a resident’s health remotely, to virtual-reality goggles that allow a resident to experience the world more dynamically than ever before.”
Stay At Home: Now, more than ever before, the aged-care sector is set up to support people who want to remain independent in their own homes. A massive range of services are available and consumers are encouraged to choose what help they need and how they want to spend their own funding and personal budgets.
Retirement Living: These days retirement living has more of a holiday vibe than a place where old people congregate to spend the last days of their lives. Modern retirement villages are filled with active residents who look out for each other and when more formal care is needed it can easily be brought in. The social interaction typically found in over 55’s lifestyle villages often helps keep people well and engaged for longer than could otherwise be expected.
Residential Care: Modern residential care facilities offer security and peace of mind that all needs can be met regardless of what may happen. There is easy access to specialised health services and because of this, there is often improvement in people’s overall health and wellbeing when they move into residential care.
The West Australian
Read more at http://health.thewest.com.au/news/2766/find-the-right-home-at-the-right-time