Deciding to enter aged care is a big decision… and one that most people don’t necessarily want to think about when they are enjoying their well-deserved dream retirement.
But at some stage of our lives, most of us will need extra support, and we know that being well prepared can make it an easier process.
While you may not need to consider aged care just yet, it is worthwhile taking the time to assess what’s involved and contemplate your options to make sure you achieve the best outcome in later years.
Understand your options
When you start to think about ‘aged care’, the first option that often comes to mind is a residential aged care facility. These types of facilities tailor your accommodation and level of care based on your personal requirements. They provide all your day-to-day needs, including meals, cleaning and laundry and social activities. Plus, you receive support with both personal and clinical care. Onsite nursing staff help with your health management as well as assisting you with personal grooming, if necessary.
Additional services may be available, but this will vary between facilities. Some might have an onsite hairdresser or include free WiFi or access to Foxtel. These are all features to find out when you are assessing suitability.
But this is not your only option. If you would prefer to stay in your own home, there are various Government Home Care Packages available – designed to provide you with services that help you remain in the comfort of your home for as long as possible. These types of services include cleaning, gardening and home maintenance, personal care and health services along with transportation and social support.
Start planning early
While it might still be a number of years before you require any aged care services, it doesn’t hurt to start planning early. Spending time now, when you are fit and well, to plan for future possibilities, will help remove uncertainty.
Australia’s aged care system is complex and the last thing you want is additional stress when you need to access support. Many of the Government provided aged care services have significant waiting times, so it makes sense to get ahead before you have a critical need.
It is also beneficial to be financially prepared for any aged care requirements, as facilities can vary significantly in cost. For example, the Government-set basic daily fee per person is currently a maximum of $52.71, but you may also have to pay a means-tested fee, which could be up to an additional $256.44 per day. Speaking to your professional adviser earlier rather than later can help secure your financial future.
Determine your eligibility
Before you can access Government support or move into an aged care facility, you will need to determine your eligibility. And in addition, you will need to undertake an assessment by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).
To find out more about your eligibility, you can answer a series of short questions on the Government’s My Aged Care website.
The assessment is generally a face-to-face process undertaken by health professionals such as doctors, nurses or social workers who have aged care expertise.
Visit some facilities
The best way to get a feel for aged care is to visit some facilities. As the ageing proportion of our population continues to grow, you might find that many have substantial waiting lists, so you don’t want to leave it to the last minute to make a decision.
Look at different locations and start putting together a short-list of your ‘must-haves’. The more you familiarise yourself with what’s available, the greater control you will have over your eventual choice.
If you can, try to meet some of the residents and chat with them about the facility… their first-hand experience could make all the difference to your final selection.
Talk to your family
Accepting the inevitability of your aged care requirements can be a difficult process. Not only for you, but also for your loved ones. It’s important to be open about your plans and to discuss what you want for your final years.
This includes a plan for potential physical or mental incapacity. If you can lay out your wishes now, your family will be able to act on your behalf should it be necessary in the future.
While it can be a challenging conversation today, it can help reduce stress and even conflict during a time of heightened emotions years down the track.
Seek professional advice
As with any major life events, we recommend seeking professional advice before you finalise your aged care decisions. A specialist financial adviser will be able to provide you with the appropriate guidance and help find the ideal solution for you.