I spend my day myth busting our health care system to my clients. Your parents may have pre-conceived ideas about the health system before I visit. They may have heard some horror stories from friends. They are often confused about how the health care system can help them.
Your aging loved ones has to have a realistic view of the limits of our healthcare system. Without that understanding, it can be hard to have a conversation about planning to age well.
Here are some common myths that can stop your loved one from aging well
I’ll just go to a nursing home when I can’t manage at home
You don’t get to decide when to go a nursing home anymore. Only the most frail in our society get given that opportunity. If you can no longer walk, are bed bound or have complex health needs can you go to a nursing home. Even once you get approved for nursing home, you may be waiting in your home for 6 months to 1 year. Do you have a plan for how you and will family will cope during that time? What would be your plan if your health was poor, but not poor enough for nursing home? Could you continue to manage at home?
I’ll stay in my home until they take me out in a pine box
Aging in place is not about being stubborn. Aging in place is having a plan to be safe, independent and able to manage your health needs. To do this successfully, you must have a plan for supports to assist you aging in place. If you are not managing well at home, the healthcare system may make a decision that you are no longer safe in your home. They will expect you to transition to a higher level of care. If you land in hospital in a crisis, the choice of where you live may no longer truly be your choice unless you have a plan.
Home care can meet my needs when I need it
Everyone has access to Alberta Health Services home care services. Due to our aging population and budgets, home care services are limited. You usually get a maximum of 3-4 hours a day of homecare services. By the time you get help with medications, getting dressed morning and evening, help with a shower – the time is quickly used. What is your plan when your needs exceed those home care hours? Will you hire a private nursing company? Can a family caregiver devote the time needed? Will you move somewhere that additional care can be provided? You have to realize there is a limit to government services and understand how that can affect your care. You have to be educated about other services available to help support your plan to age in place!
If I go to hospital, they will keep me there if I can’t go home
If you need a new level of care, such as Designated Supportive Living or Nursing Home, you may be asked to wait in your home until a spot opens up. That means you and your family will need to manage with the resources provided until that happens. Sometimes the wait may be quick and just a couple weeks, but sometimes it can be much longer. I have seen families wait up to a year. With limited beds, long wait lists and staffing shortages – families and caregivers are expected to manage when there isn’t a space available.
If you want your aging loved one to age well at home, you may want to start with myth busting our health care system. Try to learn what expectations your parents have of the health care system. Making sure they understand how our health care system works is a key to them deciding to be proactive about aging well.
Are you having a tough time having a conversation with your aging loved ones about their expectations of the health care system? My age in place consultations is designed to be a conversation about starting a plan and being proactive about aging well. I’m here to guide you and your aging loved ones through a process to understand what they want aging well to look like for them! You don’t have to figure this all our on your own!