Life goes full circle – helpful advice for putting your parents into care

We come into the world and in most cases are cared for by our parents, who nurture us, teach us the fundamentals of life and instill the confidence to spread our wings and make our way in the world. For many of us, as we grow older the roles are reversed and we find ourselves caring for our parents or assisting them on their journey in their later years. Life goes full circle.

Have the tough conversations

It’s important to have the tough conversations with your parents. Ask them what they want and need and have realistic chats about whether their wishes can be achieved. 

Many parents do not want to be a burden to their children, and this is the opportunity to discuss their future care requirements and the prospect of going into a care facility. Your parent may have unmet needs now or in the future, and it is important to assess these needs and determine how to support and meet them. Having a tough conversation can help achieve this.

Finding the right residential care facility

Not all residential aged-care facilities are the same, so it is imperative that you do your research to determine which facility is the best one for your parent. This may be a time-consuming process, but when you consider it is likely to be your parent’s final home, you want to get it right. 

You want to find a place where they are happy and feel secure and content, so take the time to visit a number of facilities to find the perfect one. Try to match the facility to your parent. If music is important to them, try to find one where residents can partake in activities and events involving music, or any other activity they enjoy.

You may consider booking your parent in for respite or a short-term stay, after discussing this option with them, so they can familiarise themselves with the facility and also get to know the staff. This would give them an opportunity to determine if they would be comfortable remaining in the facility long term, or perhaps they may decide it is not the right place for them.

Important questions you should ask

Some important things to consider are:

·       How does the facility meet your parent’s unique needs?

·       What type of care does it offer and does it meet your parent’s requirements?

·       What is the staff-to-resident ratio?

·       What services and activities are on offer? There may be many activities available, but are they things your parent enjoys and would partake in?

·       When are the scheduled activities, visiting hours, mealtimes and bedtimes?

·       Are the buildings, gardens and grounds well maintained or in need of repair?

·       Are the staff friendly, helpful and courteous?

·       What are the fees you need to pay for care and any additional services?

Have paperwork done before you need it

It’s important to ensure your parents have their will, power of attorney and enduring guardianship documents in place well before they need to use them. This will allow everything to operate smoothly, and you can assist them with Centrelink matters and dealing with the nursing home on their behalf should they wish you to do so.

Advocate for your parents

There are different room types available depending on whether your parent is fully subsidised by the government, partly subsidised or will pay for their own care. These different levels of payments will affect the room offered to your parent – often the fully subsidised rooms are at the bottom of the pecking order and may be unrenovated or have an unappealing orientation. If your parent is fully subsided and is offered one of the unappealing rooms, stand your ground, advocate for them and request that they are offered a better room if available.

Putting your parents into care can be a difficult, emotional and stressful time in your life, where you feel guilt and helplessness, torn between what your parents want and what you know they need. It’s important to seek appropriate advice and support and have those important conversations with your parents to make sure they are well taken care of as they transition into the next chapter of their life.

Melisa Sloan, author of ‘Big Moments: Expert advice for conquering those moments that define us’, is a lawyer, industry leader, author and board director who loves helping people put in place beautiful legacies. For more information visit

Are your parents getting to a point where they may need care? What do you hope your children take into consideration with you? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: AI trial in aged care begins 


  1. My mother-in-law has long been getting worse and worse. After two years of in and out hospital and rehab, her right leg had to be amputated. She’s now in a local care home, and we love the staff, especially the main lady there!

    Now.. the problem. When I first arrived in Australia, it was all well. My husband and I live with the parents, it’s mutually a good thing for all four of us and assorted furbabies. Mum was borderline diabetic, I’m Type 2. I told her if she kept eating all the sweets and so on, that she’d end up on insulin. She didn’t believe me and then… yep! I allowed myself one big “I told you so!” . And then… the battle to get her to quit smoking began.

    It continued till about six years ago, and took the grandchildren to help. I know it sounds like we’re the bad guys, but we want her to be healthy and there to dance at the grandchildren’s weddings!

    Anyway…. she started smoking again in the home. We caught her on a video call! My husband told her we will not visit her and we will not expose the pets to smoke (We had permission to bring them one at time to visit). It’s not a good thing for my health to be around it either, I have serious conditions. My husband is her official person to deal with the Centrelink and nursing home. Soo… we talked to the lady in charge, but she can’t do anything as long as mil is in her right mind. Uh huh… oi!

    We didn’t want to have to put her in there, especially Dad. But our house is a small one, it’s a miner’s house built many years ago. Dad won’t move while he’s working, but when he retires we’re going to all try to move to Perth, to a place better suited for Mum.

    Sorry for the long posting.. My husband and I just feel so embattled and hurt (she basically told us cigarettes are more important to her than we are!) The lovely people at the home do what they can..

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