So are you ready for your mum to become a bed blocker?

Reading time: 2 min(s)

Many adult children will know the familiar refrain – ‘Mum’s in hospital, she can’t go home and they want her out’. Hospitals label them ‘bed blockers’ – usually older people lying in a hospital bed who no longer need to be there and would be better placed living somewhere in the community (but not back at home).

This ‘she can’t stay but she can’t go home’ mantra was the subject of a recent article by a Ros Coward in The Guardian. It recounted, somewhat poignantly, her experience with her bed blocking mother. To quote from some of her salient comments:

  • “I wasn’t in any way prepared for this moment.”
  • “The following five weeks were terrible. I was very distressed. I felt guilty. I had nightmares about making my mother leave her home.”
  • “Worst of all was the finances.”

While her article essentially bemoaned the cost and complexity of the health/aged care system, it seemed to gloss over a glaring defect. Despite her mother having been diagnosed with dementia some years ago and having had previous admissions to hospital, the author did not seem to have any insight into what was clearly brewing as an inevitable crisis. Her mum would be in this position one day very shortly. The author was now in crisis management mode having, as she admitted in the first quote above, not been prepared.

Many of us become ‘event managers’ for our ageing parents and many of those many don’t do a very good job of it. While they are well intentioned, they are just poorly prepared and, as any scout or event manager would tell you, it is all about preparation, preparation, preparation.

Preparing for aged care is not usually on the list of the 1001 things we should do before we die. It is hard for children and their parents to confront it.  If you want to prepare, try attacking the following three key ingredients to get the discussion started:

  • Knowledge
    • Research the system and the options in order to become wise about it
  • Help
    • Get advice because financial and legal advice can convert your research into wise decisions
  • Money
    • Aged care is not free – it will require your parents to contribute to the significant cost

Alternatively, read Ros Coward’s story above again.

Brian Herd

Recognised as one of the leading experts in Australia on elder law, aged care, retirement, estate planning and disability and a regular author, broadcaster and popular presenter on many elder law subjects and issues.