Approaching the aged care discussion can be difficult for everyone involved. However, starting the conversation earlier on in life could broaden your loved one’s options and help ensure their wishes are met.
There’s a chance you or someone close to you may need some form of care and daily living assistance later on in life. And when the time comes to discuss the options, it’ll be something that needs to be managed with sensitivity.
With a lot of information to sift through and the conversation sometimes a tricky one to approach, we’ve put together some information to make navigating aged care easier for you and your family.
Australian’s use of aged care services is receiving more attention today and will continue to as our population ages. Findings from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia show:
· The likelihood of a person over age 65 requiring residential aged care in their lifetime is 54 per cent for females and 37 per cent for males
· More than 50 per cent of people over age 45 have previously, or are currently, dealing with aged care services on someone’s behalf or for themselves
· The total cost of aged care in Australia is projected to reach around $290 billion by 2055.
Making the decision to have a discussion is the first step. So if you’re in the situation where you need to approach the topic of aged care with a loved one, it’s better to do this sooner rather than later.
It may not be easy though—it’s fairly normal for people to resist this conversation. It may even be people’s sons or daughters that are resisting having the conversation with their parents who are in need of aged care. There is commonly a fear that if aged care is talked about, it will inevitably happen.
That’s why it’s a good idea to think about this as a series of conversations. And remember, in most cases, your loved one will be able to describe their wishes and will want you to take these wishes seriously.
Some other things worth considering when approaching the topic include:
· Be deliberate about the time and place for these discussions
· Do other family members need to be included?
· Whether paperwork is accessible and in order
· Whether third parties, like the family doctor, could help by offering their perspective.
Options for aged care:
Some of the different types of aged care options available are:
· Help in the home
· After-hospital (transition) care
· Respite care, which assists the primary carer
· Residential aged care (full service residences where ongoing care and support is provided)
Each has an eligibility criteria and an assessment process which can be organised through the government’s My Aged Care service.
After-hospital care can be provided in your own home or in a ‘live-in’ setting for 12 to 18 weeks. As far as respite care services go, there are a few types you can look into.
If the best option is residential aged care, it’s a good idea to research and visit a number of residences yourself or with your family member so you can find the right place in terms of location, services and activities.
How much will it cost?
The cost for after-hospital care or respite care will depend on the level of care needed, and for how long. The fees for residential aged care or an at-home-care package can vary quite a bit and will depend on income and assets as assessed by the Department of Human Services (Centrelink) or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. With a residential aged care place, there may be one-off payments (or deposits), as well as ongoing fees for care, accommodation and daily living expenses.
If you or your loved one is a self-funded retiree, it’s a good idea to seek an income assessment shortly before commencing an at-home-care package or entering residential aged care. If the assessment isn’t completed, maximum fees and charges may be applied.
As there are complexities to work through when it comes to aged care, including whether to sell the family home for example, it may be worth seeking assistance from a financial adviser.
In the meantime, if aged care is a topic you’re going to approach with a loved one in the near future, we hope our insights have been of some assistance to you and your family.
 ASFA discussion paper: the future interaction of superannuation with aged care and health care, Nov 2015.