Carers soften pain of leaving loved ones

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Camera IconCredit: TheWest

There is nothing easy about having a parent in a nursing home.

The day you move them in is horrible. You tell them it’ll be great, they will have fun and maybe make new friends.

It’s similar to the encouraging words you give a child on their first day of school. Only this time, the person is staying there.

And it might be the last place they live.

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Visiting can be hard too.

Talking to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be repetitive and upsetting. Hearing the same stories again and again is one of the easier symptoms to deal with — some are harder.

You remind yourself it’s the disease, it’s not really them. But it doesn’t help.

Even if the place is set up like a five-star resort, the guilt that wells in your stomach as you wave goodbye burns like acid.

The only comfort is the knowledge your loved one is being cared for in the best place by the best people.

Because the people who work in aged care are there because they do just that – care. I have deep admiration for those who possess the strength, compassion and patience to care for the sick, injured, disabled, and elderly.

Knowing I could not work in medicine or nursing, especially in an aged-care setting, has given me a profound respect for those who can.

Aged care should be a place where people are respected and shown compassion, their lives celebrated. Sadly, it is the younger generations who decide how nursing homes operate.

The final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, released on March 1, states that for too long, aged care has focused more on the funding requirements of aged care providers rather than the care needs of older people.

The report’s royal commissioners, Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs AO, called for fundamental reform of the aged care system, saying: “The extent of substandard care in Australia’s aged care system reflects both poor quality on the part of some aged care providers and fundamental systemic flaws with the way the Australian aged care system is designed and governed.

“People receiving aged care deserve better.”

If we’re lucky enough to get to old age, we too will walk the halls of a nursing home, waving goodbye to our loved ones.

My only hope is that wherever my sons put me, I can be happy and well looked after by kind and caring people.

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