Caring for your elderly parents

As many developed countries, Australia’s population is ageing and is expected to rapidly age over the coming decades.

In 2007 for each older person (over the age of sixty five), there were five working age people in contrast to the projections for 2056, where there will be less than three working age people for every older person*.

Caring for your ageing parents is a challenge millions of Australians face, with more than half the population over sixty dealing with a disability or need for care*. Close to half of these people required assistance with managing health conditions or coping with every day activities*.

*Source: Australian Business Statistics

Things to consider

Talk to your parents’ doctor. If you have any concerns or worries about your parents’ health, the first place to start should be their GP. If there is anything to worry about, they can explain you any specific needs and care required for them.

Understand your parents’ needs. If your parents have any specific health issues to deal with, take the time to research these conditions. It helps to know and understand the issues when helping your parents deal with the situation.

Talk to your parents. Talk to your parents about your concerns. Sometimes, a

conversation alone will release a lot of pressure from the situation. Understand what their desires and expectations are and consider these when helping them through this situation. Ask them to provide you with a list of all the professionals that help them with their medical, financial and any other matters in order to help them address these aspects of their life.

Talk to others. When worrying about something, many people tend to shut

themselves away everyone else around them. Make sure you reach out to others like your siblings, family members, friends and neighbours. You’d be pleasantly surprised to find that others are as concerned as you are and willing to be there to give emotionally support to you and your parents.

Seek support groups. There will be a number of organisations and community groups who can assist the elderly and their family. Having a strong support group for your parents and you will lessen the pressure of dealing with the situation.

Consider getting help. Elderly people may need help with simple things like shopping and cleaning. If you or any other family members are not able to help, consider professional assistance.

Assess the options. Understand the long term options available for consideration, such as staying with family, hired help at home, aged care and retirement homes.

Your parents may not require this assistance now but the need for care can emerge gradually. It helps to be prepared and aware of the options so that you can come to an agreement together with how to handle any future situations.

Attend to legal matters. Talk to your parents about legal matters such as wills and health care directions. You may wish to consult with their attorney to assist your parents with preparing these documents. This will ensure that your parents wishes are followed where they may not be able to communicate for themselves.

Some helpful resources

Aged Care Australia is the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing’s premier online source of information for everything you need to know about aged care. This site provides essential information to help make decisions about aged care for your parents and the rest of your family.

The Carers Association in each state provides carers with information and referrals to services that help and support you in a caring role.

Depression in older people is common and may occur for many reasons. Beyond Blue is an organisation working to address issues associated with depression. This site will provide you with some insightful information to understand if your parents or you might be going through depression and how to deal with it.

Call us on 03 9374 1133 for an appointment to discuss how we can help you at this important time.