How I helped my mother feel comfortable receiving home care | St Louis Home Care
My 78 year old mother has always been fiercely independent, physically and mentally strong. Her young adult years were shaped by sheer hard work and determination as a migrant to Australia in the 1960’s from Europe. Along with my father, she worked hard for her home and raising a family and receiving help or being assisted along the way was never part of my parent’s reality. They are proud of being able to stand on their own two feet and are not so comfortable with the idea of being helped.
But times have changed and so have both my parents’ needs. It has been difficult for our family to see my mother’s health and wellbeing deteriorate. Over the last few years, she has experienced heart problems resulting in a pacemaker, and several strokes. The most recent stroke left her with diminished eyesight and she is now dependent on my 88 year old father and others to do what she’s always done every day – drive her to places, cook, clean and do the shopping.
A few years ago when her heart troubles began, I suggested we apply for a home care package but my mother was uncomfortable with the idea and refused. I gently persisted and recommended that we begin the application process as it could take up to a year to approve. ㅤ
"Mum agreed to this when I explained that she didn’t have to take the home care package even when it was finally approved. Mum just wanted to know she always had a choice, which she did.
I couldn’t be more thankful of the timing and was grateful we applied for the home care package back then. After her third stroke, when she could no longer drive herself anywhere or do many of the things she could normally do, her home care package was finally approved and allocated.
However, even though she was in need, she still didn’t want the help. The process of actually receiving home care services was a challenge and continues to be a challenge today. We’re about six months in, and she resists each and every service and none of the services are ever as good as she thinks they should be. But we are all working together to deliver support that makes her life easier and allows my father some time for himself.
We have had to work together to provide the services that she finds most helpful, even if she initially refuses. The St Louis home care team has gently persisted to understand her needs and to tailor the services that they intuitively know will be useful for her, adding services that she wants gradually.
After speaking with other people whose parents have home care packages, this is not an uncommon situation. Home care means someone new coming into your home to help, it’s understandable that our parent’s generation resist this idea.
I’m working with my mother to help her accept that she needs help at home, as she would rather struggle through, which only results in adding more pressure to my father and other family members. This is taking time as she can be very stubborn and makes decisions about her health and wellbeing based on how she used to be, not how she is today.
However, our persistence has been worth it, because when the services start, she continues to complain but I can see she is happier, less stressed and my father feels better too.
These are the services we’ve started gradually over the last few months:
Cleaning - this has been particularly challenging as my mother is a meticulous cleaner and no one ever does the cleaning as well as she does! We’ve requested specific cleaning which includes the vacuuming and bathrooms as she finds these tasks more tiring. She likes to do the dusting herself.
Grocery shopping – my mother has always done the grocery shopping and cooking through her fifty years of marriage. My father does his best to buy the groceries she wants and helps a little with the cooking. She relies on him to buy the right brands, but he doesn’t always get it right. This causes stress in their relationship. Thankfully the St Louis home care team have stepped in and take her shopping once a week to buy exactly the items she wants. Everyone is happier and the household is calmer.
Meals delivered – food has always been a great experience in my parents’ household. My mother loved to cook, and we’ve always enjoyed her meals. Therefore, having pre-prepared meals delivered to her home was difficult to start with as she wanted to continue cooking what she could. She agreed to having a couple of weekly meals delivered to at least try the service. Therefore, two nights out of seven are now covered for dinner.
Respite care – my father is 88, healthy and able to look after his own and most of my mother’s needs. However, he is exhausted for a lot of the time. He also wants to continue some of his social outings which he hasn’t been able to in recent months as my mother doesn’t like to stay home on her own. As I write this, we are in the process of arranging respite care and carer’s care so that she can have time away for extra care, allowing my father some time to rest.
Mobility aids in the home – my mother’s home care package has provided for rails and other mobility aids to keep her safe at home. We continue to review these and will add more mobility aids as she needs them.
Thank goodness for home care. I really don’t know how my parents would have managed had it not been for a few hours a week of extra help which has made such a significant difference to their lives. We all feel far more at peace knowing there is a supportive framework in place that both my parents can access when they need it, and that can change and provide more help as their needs change.
Written by a St Louis client who wishes to remain anonymous.
Start a home care application today as it takes up to 12 months to approve
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