The decision to move into an aged care facility is a big one, and can be a challenging experience both for the older person and their family. Many people don’t like change, and it’s common for older people to have fears about moving into “an old people’s home”. While many older people often have negative perceptions of aged care facilities based on the traditional concept of senior living, this is not the case anymore. Far from being the dismal and lonely experience that it is often perceived to be, aged care facilities these days are comfortable, friendly, cheerful, convenient and positive places for older people to enjoy and live life to the fullest. There’s really no reason for older people to dread moving into aged care and while these fears might be understandable, they’re probably not based on today’s reality. Below are some examples of common fears elderly people suffer at the thought of moving into aged care, and the reality of aged care communities today.
Common fear #1: Loss of independence
Many people fear that moving into an aged care facility will mean they will lose their independence and be unable to make their own decisions.
Moving into aged care can actually improve older people’s independence by providing them with the tools and assistance they need to live their life to the fullest. Residents will still have many choices to make, and will be free to participate in social life and activities to whatever degree they choose. The aim of senior communities is to encourage and support older people to live as independent life as possible while providing them with the help they need to do that.
Common fear #2: Being reliant on others
Older people are often fiercely independent, and often don’t want to admit they are struggling or that they need help.
While many people fear being reliant on others and being a burden, the reality is that everyone needs help at some point, and accepting help can lead to a more comfortable and convenient way of living. Staff at aged care facilities are trained to assist you in meeting your needs, and won’t view you as a hindrance or a burden – it’s their job to help, and without people like you, they would not be able to earn a living. It’s okay to admit that you need help sometimes, and not having to struggle with tasks that are difficult for you can lead to more time to enjoy life. You are also free to choose the level of care you need and are comfortable with.
Common fear #3: Being alone and forgotten
Older people often fear that moving away from regular contact with their friends and family will mean they will be lonely and lacking in companionship.
Contrary to this belief, moving into an aged care facility usually means you will be surrounded by a community of likeminded people who will quickly become friends and companions. You will have a chance to forge long-lasting friendships with other residents and staff members, as well as many opportunities to see your existing friends and family. Many older people live in isolation in their own homes, with mobility or health issues making it difficult for them to get out and see people and stay involved in their community. Moving into aged care creates far greater opportunities for social connections and companionship. And of course you’ll be free to get out and socialise with friends and family whenever you choose, as well as having friends and family visit you at your aged care home.
Common fear #4: Being bored
The myth of old people sitting around with nothing to do in aged care facilities is a prevalent one, but it’s just that – a myth.
You probably won’t have time to be bored – today’s senior living communities are hubs of activity, socialising and discovering new interests you may never have considered. Most aged care facilities organise regular outings, physical and social activities to keep you busy, interested and entertained. Here at Finley Regional Care we offer a variety of gentle exercises and games to keep our residents’ bodies and minds mobile and agile. As well, many aged care facilities will encourage you to continue with your hobbies, and provide opportunities for you to do so. You might be able to help maintain the complex’s gardens, or arrange flowers for the tables, or creates artworks for the walls. There’ll be plenty to do – but plenty of downtime if you need it too.
Common fear #5: Moving and loss of security
Being away from the comfort and familiarity of your home can create great anxiety, as well as the thought of all the upheaval and work involved with moving.
The best way of overcoming this fear is by seeing just how homely, warm and friendly most aged care facilities are. It really is a home away from home, and you’ll probably settle in and feel at home quicker than you think. You can visit the complex before moving in to get familiar with the setting and environment, and help can be sought to assist you with the physical tasks of packing and moving. It may also help to maintain as many habits as possible from your previous lifestyle – such as your sleeping or exercise routine, and hobbies that you did while living in your home. Keep in contact with the same people you used to see too, and you’ll find the change is not so great after all.
Common fear #6: Having no purpose in life
It’s common to feel that moving into retirement living signals the end of your useful and purposeful life and the start of a downhill slide into just marking time.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Not having the cares and concerns of having to look after yourself and your home leads to more time and energy to spend on what you enjoy and what gives you purpose. You’ll have time to write that novel you’ve been thinking about for years, or take up a new sport or hobby, or spend time in community service or helping others, or just socialising with family and friends. Aged care staff will be able to help you with achieving new goals – and you may well find you have a greater sense of purpose than you ever did before.
So there you have it – contrary to your fears, moving into an aged care facility can be a wonderfully positive experience that will enhance your quality of life and give you new energy and purpose. For more information about how aged care facilities can improve the quality of life for older Australians, click here. If you’d like to speak to someone at Finley Regional Care about how we can make your transition to aged care living smooth, comfortable and positive, contact us on (02) 5504 6508.