With Australia’s ageing population growing at a rapid rate, more and more people are facing the emotional challenge of putting loved ones into an aged care facility.
This can be a devastating time for a family, and for many people visiting their loved one in aged care can be quite a confronting experience, especially if they are already experiencing feelings of guilt and sadness.
But of course, visits to loved ones in aged care are more important than ever before. So if you are feeling uncomfortable, here are some tips to make your visit enjoyable, and ensure your loved one continues to feel loved and connected.
the power of touch
One of the easiest and gentlest ways to connect with your family member is through touch, especially if they are immobile or unable to communicate. Sitting close to them, holding their hand, and talking to them quietly will let them know you care. Other possibilities are to stroke their forehead, give them a hand or head massage or even a manicure.
It’s important you remain involved in your loved one’s life. A good way to do this is to ask them questions about their day – recent outings, food, other people in the home. But try not to focus on current health problems. You may also want give your loved an opportunity to vent any frustrations they may be having and arrange a time to talk to staff about any concerns. Remember to let your loved one know the outcome.
involve them in your life
It’s important for your loved one to know they are still an important and valued member of the family. So discuss family matters with them, let them know any news, ask for advice and continue to involve them in decision-making. Another great way to keep them involved is to share photos of special events, holidays and family members who live far away.
Not everyone is a huge talker so not all visits need to revolve around conversation. You can share other experiences too such watching a DVD, listening to music, reading a book, writing letters, ordering take-away or eating together in the dining room. Even better, if possible you can take your family member out for the day. A simple car ride, walk in the garden, meal in s restaurant or trip to the beach or cinemas could be the highlight of their week.
bring someone with you
When visiting your loved one, why not bring along another friend or family member who doesn’t often visit. It could be grandkids who are too young to drive, a close friend of your loved one who doesn’t get out much themselves or even the family pet. This will make visit social and help your loved one stay connected to the family and community.
While visiting a loved one in aged care can be confronting for many people, it doesn’t have to be rigid or unenjoyable. Think about all the things you’ve always done together and try to recreate a similar experience in what is essentially their new home.