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  • Nathan Fradley

Proactive Aged Care Planning

Intended Audience: A family member of someone needing to consider Aged Care





Preparation prevents poor performance. 

An old saying but one that holds very strong in consideration for Aged Care.  Early planning for aged care can make a significant difference, ensuring that your loved ones receive the best possible support when they need it most.

In this blog I’ll explore why its better to be proactive when considering Aged Care.


Success in the transition into Aged Care can be the difference between being proactive and reactive. Many families wait until a crisis occurs before considering aged care options, which can lead to rushed decisions and additional stress. By planning early, you can avoid the pitfalls of making hasty decisions under pressure. Being proactive also helps your family member adjust to the idea instead of being thrust upon them.


More often than not, I get the call for Aged Care advice 1-3 weeks out from needing to enter a facility – a reactive situation. My client (the caller’s parent) is currently in hospital because of a fall. Their Doctor no longer considers it safe for them to live at home, and will only release them into a Care Facility, unless someone can become the full time carer at home.  


Imagine being your parent in that situation. You had a fall, woke up in hospital, and have probably been moved around between rooms. You are confused, frustrated and likely groggy, and now you’re being told you can’t go home seemingly out of nowhere, and you have no say in where you go next.


Preparation removes a lot of that ambiguity. Your parent has had a chance to adjust to the idea, discuss it and accept that they will at some point lose some of their independence. Maybe they just lost their license and this ties in. They can select where they want to move to next, having spent some time with you visiting a few facilities and getting the ‘vibe’. If you’ve been really good at planning, maybe the facility is next door to their current home, or they have been working with the care staff from the facility as part of their Home Care Package. The fact they’re on a home care package, means they have had time to adjust to the idea of being ‘cared for’.


Add onto that we can make preparations around their financial position, allowing us to be smarter with choices of Investments & Superannuation, and also aligning their wishes in their will.


We can’t remove the accident, and we cant remove the challenge of losing independence, but with proper planning we can remove a lot of the ambiguity and unknowns and financial stress around it, allowing you more bandwidth to spend on the more emotional matters, and making for a much smoother transition.


So why are so many people reactive?

  • It’s a big pill: The concept of moving into a Residential Care facility is filled with preconceptions and psychological barriers. The easiest target is that ‘nursing homes’ have been fraught with controversy over the years, but just as importantly, your parent will feel like they are losing their last pillar of independence. Being in residential care is not jail, and you can leave any time, but in Australia the trend is to enter Residential facilities later and later in life, meaning it can feel like the final stop, like they are being locked up, when really we are just being cared for.

  • Stubbornness: Couple the above, our parents and grandparents can be extremely stubborn, even more so when getting advice or instruction from their kids and this can create a barrier to action. This can be frustrating when you just want the best for them, and they are putting themselves in danger and causing additional worry for those around them.

  • Conflicting Family Views: I often see one child or family member doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the continued support of a parent. They put their career on hold, get home late, and add additional items to their ‘to-do’ to care for their parents; although they’ wouldn't have it any other way. In these circumstances, it’s not unusual to see another sibling being resistant to the idea of putting Mum or Dad ‘in a home’. Not faced with the realities and impacts weighing on the main caregiver, they can be less logical about it, resulting in infighting and resentment.

  • It’s all too hard: Combine all of this with the complexity of the system, and idea that ‘You know what? Lets look at it next year’ prevails. Each time a family puts it off, they get one step closer to being reactive.


Key Steps in being Proactive in Aged Care Planning

You don’t need to call an adviser straight away. Start here:


  1. Open Family Discussions: Initiate conversations about Aged Care with your parents and siblings early. Discuss their preferences, health concerns, and any specific needs they may have. These discussions should be ongoing and evolve as circumstances change. Record them to avoid ‘but you said’ behaviour. It’s a stressful conversation and often things can be missed, so be patient and empathetic with each other.

  2. Legal Preparation: Ensure that all necessary legal documents are in place, ideally by an Estate Lawyer. This includes Powers of Attorney, Wills, and any Advanced Care Directives (these differ state to state). These documents will be crucial in managing your parents' affairs and making decisions on their behalf if needed, and having them drafted properly can allow assist if there are any conflicts of interest, or tension between parties.

  3. Understand their financial position: Conduct a thorough assessment of your parents' financial situation. Understand and keep records of their assets, income, and where all their bills are paid from.

  4. Organise an ACAS Assessment: Organise an Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) Assessment through My Aged Care as soon as possible. This assessment will determine the level of care your parents need and help plan the appropriate services. (These are called ACAT in every state but Victoria). By getting this done, they may be able to access some basic home care, but it also means they are in the My Aged Care System, and are familiar with the process if they need reassessing.

  5. Exploring Options: Research and visit various Aged Care facilities in their area or nearby to you or your siblings(with Mum and/or Dad). Explore home care services as well, to understand what is available. Take the time to understand what each option offers and how it aligns with your parents' needs.

  6. Legal Preparations (Again): I just need to reiterate, having recent and appropriate Powers of Attorney is critical to reducing stress in this process.



Getting Advice

Advice in Aged Care has two distinct phases.


Phase 1: Identify, Educate, Prepare:

  • In this phase I would work with your family to get a really good understanding of your parents situation, and both financially, but also who they are as a person: their values, interests and things they care most about.

  • I can then flag any risks, opportunities or misalignments and provide guidance, advice and education around the rules of the Aged Care system and relevant mechanics, as well as going through what to expect in this process.

  • Lastly I would provide advice on what steps should be taken up, be that in rearranging the financial situation (or what to do when it's the right time), as well as introducing external professionals such as Estate Lawyers or Placement Agents like Aged Care Ready.


Phase 2: Entering Care

  • This is an advice on decisions around finally entering care. We will work on what options are affordable, considering and contrasting options on funding care.

  • When I provide this service, I take a comprehensive view, looking at any quick wins, short term impacts and opportunities, long term and estate considerations and even dealing with Centerlink.

  • This frees up the family to focus on the more emotionally challenging parts of the process with less stress.


With the complexities involved in Aged Care Advice, it is prudent to work with an Accredited Aged Care Financial Adviser. It's not unusual for me to work with a clients existing Adviser or Accountant, bringing my specialty skillset.



In closing

Early aged care planning is about more than just preparing for the future—it's about ensuring that your parents receive the best care possible while maintaining their dignity and quality of life. By taking a proactive approach, you can manage financial, emotional, and logistical challenges more effectively, providing peace of mind for both you and your parents.


Resources

  • For more information or to book an assessment visit MyAgedCare: https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/

  • If you suspect a loved one may be experiencing elder abuse contact the Eldar Abuse Phone Line on 1800 353 374.

  • If you think they are in immediate Danger Ring 000 or make a non urgent report to Crime Stoppers in your state.

 

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