What Can I Do? Services for the Ageing & Carers

What Can I Do?  Services for the Ageing & Carers

What Can I Do?

The Essential Guide to Australian Services for the Ageing and Carers

Lynda Bennett and Trish Stewart are two health care professionals who have worked in aged care for many years. After witnessing the distress of people trying and failing to find information for themselves, their mother or their father about age care, they realised the need for a guide that helped navigate age care and let people know what they could do. 'This book was produced because we were frustrated with a lack of concise literature and information about coping with ageing issues. As health care professionals (Trish is a Registered nurse and Lynda a Physiotherapist), we found that we too were asking the same questions when it came to the care of our own families. People in need of care, carers of the elderly, family and friends need to access a wide range of information and services to be able to make informed choices.'

What Can I Do? The essential guide to Australian services for the ageing and their carers is the most complete and informative book on the subject - essential reading for everybody, and at any stage of life. Compiled by healthcare professionals Lynda Bennett and Trish Stewart, the book springs from their years of experience in helping people to get the assistance they need. There are plenty of services available to the ageing and their families in Australia; so many, in fact, that navigating the complex labyrinth of service providers can add unnecessary stress to what can be a highly emotional situation.

What Can I Do? cuts through the bureaucracy and red tape by explaining simply and clearly where to go for help. It tells you what assistance you're entitled to under current law and where to find it, with contact details for all organisations involved, from government departments to independent advisory bodies and private companies.

What Can I Do?
Hachette Australia
Authors: Lynda Bennett and Trish Stewart
ISBN: 9780733624520
Price: $24.99

Interview with Lynda Bennett and Trish Stewart

Why did you decide to write this book?

Lynda Bennett and Trish Stewart: The idea came from our own personal experience; we are both experienced health care workers who then had a whole lot of issues that came up when we were helping our parents. We thought if we are having this much trouble and we know how to play the game how much do other people not know. We started collecting information from the point of view of being daughters. We then had so much information; you have so many pamphlets and things that you see lying around and you collect them, then you forget them or loose them. We realised that having it all in one place would help people get through the difficult time of sorting things out and what you need to know. We tried to put all our knowledge plus what we found into one book that could apply to people anywhere in Australia.

What tips does the book provide for those caring fro someone elderly?

Lynda Bennett and Trish Stewart: A tip would be, first of all, the difficult one is finding balance between respecting that persons feelings about things and also you wanting to help them. You might know what you want to do but you don't know how to respect them. As Trish often says 'you have to have trust with each other, so they allow you into their lives' and then you work together on things, it's not just one or the other.

Who is this book good for?

Lynda Bennett and Trish Stewart: The book comes at a multi-level; it is geared towards, grandchildren, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, children and the seniors themselves.

The book could be a great gift as a coffee-table-book, for the elderly to browse and for everyone to look at what the options might be now or in the future. Although, not all grandparents and parents have crisis at this stage, the idea is to plan and be aware of what is out there, so you don't have a crisis.

It would be good for everyone to read, it can give you an idea of what you may need to look at in the future, if someone needs help.

Is the book only for families?

Lynda Bennett and Trish Stewart: The book isn't just a family thing; the book is written for the older person and any carers, which could be a great family friend, a next-door neighbour that looks after them by popping in to see if they are okay, there are a lot of non-formal carers. Then there are paid carers, some people can afford to have a paid carer and that paid carer still knows a lot and even they have been given a lot more confidence by this book, we have had that feedback from readers of the Australia Carers Foundation. The older person expects the carer, whether it is paid, friend or neighbour to know how to help them. You may want to help and you may financial and emotionally willing to help but you may not quite know how to help, those people can read the book with the older person and say 'oh, now that's what we need to do!'

The book will help lead readers to information about how to get someone to help change the light globe and that is really what is about, people that aren't able to rely on anyone else but themselves. Or even if they do have a little bit of help it is about having knowledge and having a book that you can refer to whenever you want too. If you have a problem you can look it up which gives you the confidence in your own life; you don't have to ring up and ask 'what do I do?' you can ring up and confidently say 'let's do this' and the older person isn't dependent or afraid. The elderly can take the lead by saying 'I can do that' and then asking for help to do it, providing them with confidence.

Most people want to be independent and even if they can't walk properly they want to be independent mentally as they can be, this is aimed at that.

What research went into the book?

Lynda Bennett and Trish Stewart: One thing the government is talking about, which most people wouldn't know what it means is 'health literacy'. In June 2009 the Australia Bureau of Statistics did a study on the Australian Social Trends and health literacy. Heath literacy is:
How much you understand about your pills
Understanding what is available
Understand when the doctor says this is what you have wrong, knowing what you can do
Being able to read well enough to understand labels
Being able to use a computer to look things up
Having information at hand that you can understand
There is also the mathematic ability, which you may think isn't relative but it is when you have five pills and need to take three pills in the afternoon.

There is a lot involved in healthy literacy and that is the aim of our book, to get people information through the book and to make them health literate. We also aim to empowering every senior, men and women and their carers. By empowering the carers they are not thinking 'I hope I am doing the right thing' or 'what do I do next and how do I do it?'

There are tips at the back of the book about looking after somebody. The section contains simple things such as looking out for their skin and knocks on the skin. Or you may think they could be a bit cleaner but it is a dodgy situation to discuss, the book will help you ask why, it could be that they cannot get in and out of the shower easily. If you don't want to approach that particular situation because it is too personal you can approach it in a general way using the book.

It is never necessarily how much money you have because there are a lot of government funded programs. It is about empowering yourself with knowledge and then being able to make your own choices.