How do you know when a parent is ready for aged care?

It’s a question we’re often asked here at agedcare101, and one that a recent story in the Sydney Morning Herald really summed up for us.

Written by Melanie P. Merriman, the author of ‘Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging’, it’s a touching look at the struggle that many of us caring for ageing parents face.

Her mother wanted to stay living independently for as long as possible – “I just don’t want to be a burden,” is her constant reply every time the issue of needing more help comes up.

But when her mother’s best friend writes to Melanie saying that her mother needs to live somewhere closer to her or her sister, her mother says she is too old to start over somewhere new.

“My insistence that we preserve Mum's autonomy for her sake, not ours – so that she would not feel like a burden – only made things worse,” she writes.

“My insistence that we preserve Mum's autonomy for her sake, not ours – so that she would not feel like a burden – only made things worse,”

Eventually, her mother makes the move into an independent living apartment happily, making friends and enjoying the activities, but Melanie does say she would do things differently now. How?

Watch out for signs

Firstly, she would pay better attention to the signs that her mother needed help: “Her growing isolation as she stepped back from community activities and stopped driving except to places she went often, her weight loss and her forgetfulness.”

She would also have been more realistic about the realities of ageing. “I had studied aging and illness. I knew my mother would decline both physically and mentally. Still, the longer she seemed to do well, the easier it was to engage in magical thinking, also known as denial.”

Finally, Melanie says she would talk to her mother about a plan for her future – long before either of them felt it was time. “I now know that when everyone is ready to talk, it’s already too late to be proactive.”

It’s good advice. Don’t wait until too late to have the conversation – then when the time comes, everyone can be prepared and feel comfortable with the decisions being made.

Visit for more information about navigating the aged care journey.


Popular Articles

View All Articles
Article Img
What makes a great retirement village manager?

As anyone who lives in a retirement village will tell you, the village manager is a central figure who is critical to the success of the village and the happiness and wellbeing of village residents. But there’s no doubt the village manager plays an essential role. So, what is the role of a retirement village manager?

Article Img
Retirement village family open their first land lease community

Well-known retirement village family open their first land lease community in Victoria The Gannon family, led by Tom and Michael Gannon, have unveiled 226 homes at the Lucas Lifestyle Estate in Ballarat.

Article Img
73% of Australians willing to sacrifice inheritance for aged care

Nearly three-quarters of all Australians are willing to sacrifice their own inheritance so their parents and grandparents can enjoy the retirement they deserve, according to a new report by B2B aged care service CompliSpace.

Article Img
Volunteers are the backbone of the aged care sector, and more are needed

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages, such as 90-year-old Lily Burns and 20-year-old Charlise Hannagan, volunteer in aged care homes. The Change Makers is the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, 15 to 21st May, which celebrates the vital work of volunteers.

A special thanks to our contributors



Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.