Ian was a very active, busy, and young 62, part of the furniture in a small town near Adelaide, a social butterfly, a loving Grandpa, and proud Dad of two. Ian owned a small, local pizza shop for many years. He was always seen working extremely hard, he ran rings around his staff, his ambition and drive second to none!
A stroke put a stop to his busy lifestyle and impacted his, and his family’s lives in ways they could never have imagined.The stroke was severe. It left him paralyzed on his left side and resulted in brain damage; a very different life for Ian who now has 24-hour care needs.
Just imagine. One day you are living your dream: socialising and proudly watching your family grow. The next day, you’ve lost your ability to speak, to share a laugh with a friend, or tell your daughter you love her. You need support with the most basic tasks, like eating your lunch. Heart-breaking. Unimaginable.
Ian’s daughter, Ashlyn was one of the first to hear the shocking news.
“It was heart-breaking to have Dad going from young and running his own business to needing 24-hour care. He is now in a wheelchair…it was a huge adjustment for him, the whole family is still coming to terms with it,” she said.
Ashlyn and her family immediately travelled to South Australia to be with her dad during this life-changing and distressing time. As timing would have it, on the same week Ian had the stroke, Ashlyn found out she was pregnant!
“I actually took the pregnancy test in the off week of Dad’s intensive care, and I was like “you’re freaking kidding me” It was crazy timing!”
Please take a few moments and put yourself in Ashlyn’s shoes.
Just imagine being a Mum of two small children, a baby on the way, and you are thrown into becoming your father’s primary carer. Suddenly, you are grieving the dad you knew, raising a young family and grappling with the complicated disability system.
“We were mourning Dad as well as supporting Dad in this new stage of life. I had no idea how much of an advocate you’d need to be and how much admin is involved.”
This time was a true testament to the bond and love of a family. Ashlyn was in South Australia for seven weeks caring for her dad, running his shop, organising his assets, trying to understand the NDIS and plan Ian’s options for housing and care.
Ashlyn and the family had some tough decisions to make. They were now facing the bleak reality of moving Ian into an aged care facility.
“I had seen my grandmother in aged care and what a horrific place for someone aged 80. To think that young people could be in aged care, it’s just heart-breaking.”
Can you imagine having to place your family member into an aged care facility this prematurely? It is heart-breaking to think this is the only option for so many families.
Ashlyn was not going to let her dad end up in aged care, so called Youngcare Connect right away. She reached Pep, Youngcare Connect’s Family Engagement Officer.
“I got in touch with Pep and she was brilliant. I remember calling her crying saying, ‘I can’t do this, what am I going to do, I’m going to have a child I’ve got a job and how do we do all of this?’ she was wonderful she calmed me right down.”
Pep told Ashlyn about the newly completed Youngcare apartments at Chermside. With Pep’s help, Ashlyn applied for an apartment on behalf of her dad. She was beyond relieved when Ian was offered a place!
“He’s so happy, the location couldn’t be better. The Chermside shopping centre – how handy is that he has been to the cinemas, and we can just pop across the street and grab something to eat. There’s a huge medical centre close with podiatry, pathologists, dieticians and all the things Dad needs. It’s wonderful.”
Ashlyn says that Ian’s favourite thing about his new home is simple; that he has one. Like many families whose lives change suddenly when a loved one acquires a disability, they truly expected Ian to be forced into an aged care facility. They were facing a miserable future of restricted visiting hours, limited access to the community and no choice over daily activities.
While Ian’s life is not the life he planned, he is living a fulfilled life. Ian’s home is a hive of activity! The sound of his grandkids’ laughter fills the halls, their splashes in the swimming pool keeps Ian smiling from ear to ear. Ian is getting to know his neighbours, with regular ‘cocktail hours’ on Friday afternoons in the communal area.
Ian’s life is not the only one that has changed for the better since his move. Ashlyn now rests easy knowing Dad has somewhere safe and inspiring to call his home. Ashlyn is now Ian’s daughter again, which is exactly how they like it!
Ashlyn said, because of the amazing people who lovingly support the Youngcare cause, Ian can live independently and enjoy his life.
“All dad wanted when he retired was to be a foodie and be the best grandpa and he’s doing it, because of Youngcare supporters.”