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Caring for your aged loved one: the script

Rita - the script

This month I want to share about another important piece of your caring movie – the script. 

In this analogy, the script is the care you provide. 

It’s reviewed often as it changes when needed and it’s never what it initially started out as. It can also be interpreted differently depending on the audience.

The script is yours!

The most important thing I want you to know about the script is that it is your script. No one else’s. 

We often compare our caring journey to others – and I ask you to stop it. As someone who has been a carer many times, it’s important to remember that this is you and your loved one’s unique journey. Like a movie, it may have a similar storyline to someone else’s but no two journeys are ever exactly the same. 

Just like the script for a movie your caring journey will change – you can start out with the original script but as you work through, you tweak it here and there to make it better. 

How many times have we heard that “the script” has been rewritten, that after the first run through the writers have decided that changes are needed?

This is exactly the same for your caring journey. 

What you might have thought to be the perfect line just might not be for you and your loved ones.

The script needs to feel right to everyone. In your caring story, depending on who the main and support carers are, the script must match the needs of everyone. 

Planning is key!

Similar to a writer, a bit of planning and preparation is required before starting, and often the biggest challenge can be the overwhelming emotion of, ‘but where do I begin?’

When starting your carer’s journey my first piece of advice would be to sit down and talk to everyone involved, including your aged loved one. Knowing what care is needed, and who will provide it, sounds incredibly simple but it’s common for many people to be thrown into the caring role without expectation setting.

Unclear communication can cause anxiety, disagreement and can make a person feel overwhelmed stumbling from one task to the other without knowing what’s ahead and where to get help from. All involved should feel good about what they can take on, and feel comfortable saying they need help when required.

Read between the lines

A word of warning here – our aged loved ones often “mask” what they really need. It’s important to break through those barriers to uncover what care is required. There are many reasons for this: 

·         They don’t understand their own health condition and requirements

·         They don’t want to be a burden

·         They think they can still do it all

·         They don’t understand what services are available 

·         They don’t want any help

I spoke with Professor Susan Kurrle, the Geriatrician who worked on Aged Care Homes for 4 year olds – the ABC series, and one of the things she shared with me was that often our aged loved ones expect their life to deteriorate. They think that this is their “lot” in life.  But it doesn’t have to be like this, with the right script for you and your aged loved ones everyone can age successfully. 

Find the services that are right for you and your loved one

When you engage a Home Care Provider or transition your aged loved one to an aged care home a “plan” will be developed with the service provider or home. Getting the right services for your aged loved ones is the key to success.  

Use these plans to write your script – they complement each other to create the best outcome for you and your loved one. That’s right, you too. 

As you’re planning care requirements, ask yourself:

  • Does this work for me?
  • Can I manage the care they need? 
  • Have I spoken to my loved ones Doctors? Do I truly know what care they need? 

This isn’t always easy if your aged loved one is not willing to share with you everything that is going on in their life. Talk to them. Tell them why you are doing this. Ask them what they want in the script. 

Remember if everyone is involved with writing the script there will be a greater chance of success. 

Change is okay

Don’t forget if it isn’t working, it’s ok to change it. There’s no shame, blame, or guilt. As your aged loved one’s care needs change, your script will too. 

Caring for loved ones can be tough both physically and emotionally. If you’re struggling, reach out and ask for help. Find the right service providers that match your needs. You may have to bring in new or different service providers when more care is required. 

Like a movie, there may be critics.

Each and everyone’s caring journey is different. Learn from lived experience but remember there may be similarities but no two caring journeys are the same. 

I’d love to hear what you are putting in your script.

Any comments, questions or feedback is gratefully accepted – just send me an email to [email protected]

Until next time – you matter to me!

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