Some time ago Kay Bransford asked me this question: “We recently had to force my parents into Assisted Living. Everyone around them tried to recommend changes to get them the assistance they needed and they refused to make changes. Have you considered how you want to be helped in the coming years and who will make the recommendation for needed changes?”
And then recently, I received a journal written by someone diagnosed with younger onset dementia aged 46, who like me, feels that going into a Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF) to live will be like being Locked in prison. Locked front doors, and secure dementia unit. I also wrote The human cattle yards for dementia and aged careabout this. In my experience people with dementia are often physically or pharmacologically restrained, depending on their ‘behaviour’.
There is simply not enough funding, not enough staff, and sometimes not enough willingness, to manage the symptoms of dementia in a more humane way.
So how do I feel about the prospect of going into a RACF? It is the currently the only place available for me in Australia, unless I can find a bed in a 12 room facility for younger people south of Sydney, far away from my family and friends! I’ve been accused of ageist for not saying I feel like residential aged care facilities are for me. I’ve been ‘told’ by many they are great places to live in, home-like and will be needed to reduce the load from my caring partner when the time comes. Of course, these same people have not lived in one! After admitting his father into aged low care, and then to high care, he says he will NEVER make me live in aged care.
My father in law also said many times he felt locked in prison, and in low care used to stand at the front door trying to escape. It seems, we are allowed to be our own masters, and are afforded human rights, until we become aged or diagnosed with dementia. I have told friends and family I’m ok about being admitted to a residential or respite facility if the need arises, and in fact have chosen a couple and told a couple of people they are to coerce my husband if they feel he is ‘killing’ himself looking after me. He was angry I had discussed it behind his back, and still maintains he will never ‘do it’ to me, as if it is not something good to ‘do’ to a person…
On a very positive note, I note that Kay Bransfords parents seem to have settled in to assisted living really well, and the removal of the pressure of coping on their own does appears to be making their days much easier. Such a Blessing. For now, and thankfully, they still have each other, and some level of independence; how they will cope when things change may differ greatly. I’ve been thinking about and working on this blog ever since Kay’s question, which I haven’t really answered yet; hopefully I’ll get to properly answering it for our other blog sometime soon!
For me, right now, I probably block out the prospect of ever having to live in a RACF, holding onto my husbands love and promise he will never send me to one.