How can isolated men get the care they need?

Many men become isolated when they no longer have their partners to take care of them. WYZA spoke with in home care service provider, Lana Belleville, from Just Better Care Macarthur, to find out what options are available to help these men continue to live active and happy lives in their homes.

Why might men need a greater level of care than women?
It’s often the case that men who have relied on their wives to look after many of life’s decisions haven’t developed the skills they need to take care of themselves when they suddenly find themselves having to tackle life alone.

Women are natural organisers and often organise the home – doing most of the domestic chores and making sure both parties are well looked after.

As a manager of a retirement village for 23 years, Belleville would often see how women dominated most of the decisions for the good of the couple.

“When couples moved into retirement villages it was often the wife that would do all the organising of their lives. She’d do the choosing and then the husbands would go along with the wives’ decisions. She’d be off finding where the hairdresser was, where the podiatrist was and would be arranging all the furniture,” says Belleville.

Because of this dynamic, Belleville says men would sometimes become isolated when their partners died or went into nursing care.

“Many men wouldn’t leave the house, they’d have problems maintaining the home and taking care of the cooking and cleaning and often if they became unwell, they wouldn’t know how to get themselves the help they need to overcome or manage that health issue,” says Belleville.

How do isolated men usually find the help they need?
In Belleville’s experience it’s usually concerned family members that make contact with Just Better Care to make sure their loved one is receiving the in home care they need.

“Very seldom do the men contact us for help and when they do, we often find that when we get out to their homes they don’t know what kind of help they need,” says Belleville.

Talking through the kind of care options available with family and a service provider can help flesh out exactly what kind of care requirement a man may have, since he may not always be aware of that himself, Belleville says.

“It’s not the case with every man, but because some men haven’t been taking care of the house and cooking their meals and doing all these things that the wife used to do, they often don’t know what it is that they need to be doing to take better care of themselves,” says Belleville.

Even doing simple things like the ironing or washing clothes may be neglected and although they seem like small things, these things can have a big effect on a person’s self-confidence and health,” she says.

If men are isolated from their families in other states, there need not be any problem either. Just Better Care has offices in every state so there is no region too difficult to service. “We’ve even helped our clients go on trips to visit families interstate and still have all their care needs met and this is done through coordinating their needs with our interstate offices,” Belleville explains.

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In-home carers can help men with day-to-day tasks

What kinds of care needs do men have and how might they be different from what women need?
It differs for each individual but apart from help with the domestic chores, cooking and cleaning, personal care and general house maintenance, one of the biggest areas that men need help with is shopping, says Belleville.

“We often see men who don’t know what kind of shopping they should be doing. They might go to the shops and just buy a loaf of bread and some cans of fast food and say ‘that will last me the whole week for food,’” she says.

“I’ve seen men who have snapped their glasses in two and taped them back together, but really need to go and buy a new pair, but they don’t know where to find an optometrist to help them with it because the wife had all that detail in her head,” Belleville adds.

Belleville says quite often it’s the case in her role as a Just Better Care service provider that she will need to put a general care worker into a man’s house at first, so that they can help gage what specific needs he might have.

“The carer might notice that the ironing needs to be done and help him with that. Or they might notice the cleaning isn’t being done, and they might suggest that a cleaner come once a week to do some general cleaning. He may need incontinence pads, but be self conscious about getting them, and a carer can help with that too. We can also clean his linen, help with washing and showering and anything else he might need done.”

Sometimes the client might have to learn from scratch what it is he needs and then learn again to ask for help rather than being stoic and just getting by. That’s where a service provider like Just Better Care can come in to really help assess the best kind of care for him.

Why is now a great time to get in home care for a man in this position?
The government has reformed in-home care and implemented a new system called Consumer Directed Care (CDC). This new system puts the power back in the consumer’s hands so that the person needing care and their families can get exactly the care they are after.

“The great benefit of using a service provider is that a person’s care needs can be personalised to as little or as much as they need. We’ll sit down with the person and their families and work out exactly what the care requirements are and draw up a package that’s best for them, “says Belleville.

“We have men that like to go out for coffee, go shopping and even some clients that like us to take them to the movies. No request is too difficult for us to help out with,” Belleville explains.

Why is socialising important for isolated men?
Socialising is a big thing that many men miss out on when they lose their wives. Women are often the queen bees of their social lives, making appointments, checking in with friends and making new ones to enrich the couple’s experiences.

Psychologists are now talking up the importance of social connectedness with our community and the way it can have positive effects on our mental health and physical wellbeing.

But socialising has the added benefit of being a way that we can learn how to live better in our environment through swapping ideas and this is the case at every stage of our lives.

Belleville was contacted recently by a man who thanked her for ‘saving his life’ because every month his support worker took him to the races. “It gave me something to talk about up in the community centre and I felt like I was living again,” he told her.

How can an in home care provider help an isolated man connect with his community?
Belleville says many men won’t want to socialise because they’re not getting the help they need around the house and this will often make them shy away from wanting to see others.

“The house can become unkempt and this leads to further social isolation because they may become ashamed of their home and not want to see anyone,” she says.

But carers from an in-home service provider like Just Better Care can often be the impetus for men to find the social stimulation they need to better their lives.

“They can help keep the home in tip top condition, they can take the resident out on social trips to meet others, see movies, for a game of golf or just to have coffee and then return safely home. Whatever it is that a man might like to do to socialise, an in home care service provider like Just Better Care can help with,” Belleville says.

To find out more about how Just Better Care can help with in home care, visit justbettercare.com or call 1300 587 823.

Why is Just Better Care a smart choice?
One company that can act as a third party and help you explore the best options together with your parents is Australia wide in-home care service provider, Just Better Care.


Just Better Care provide essential in-home services

Just Better Care representatives can help simplify the transition to in-home care by sitting down with you and your parents and then drawing up a care plan that exactly matches your parents’ needs. Just Better Care takes into consideration a whole range of personal factors such as the type of care required, a care budget and any care your parents might already be receiving to provide care that exactly meets your parents’ requirements.

For more information about aged care options for your parents visit www.justbettercare.com.au or call 1300 587 823.

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