Senior years of retirement can mean changes, to remain in control and have a say in your care needs you need to have the discussions when you have capacity and prior to a crisis. Start the conversations early and stop your family making decisions on your behalf beside your hospital bed or in the car park.
Informal carers, family and friends providing unpaid care can sustain care for a period of time, however long term it can affect their health and wellbeing.
Overtime the level of assistance to remain living independently increases, and it can also begin to affect the dynamics of family relationships.
Informal carers often have jobs and or other family members they are caring. Adding all this to the pot can mean that a crisis occurs necessitating changes to the current status quo.
When a crisis, to either the carer or the person being cared for occurs the speed of required decision-making increases dramatically.
Having discussions early means that there is a greater understanding of preferences and the appropriate powers of attorney are more likely to be in place.
The importance of emotional wellbeing of carers and the person requiring care.
Asking for help or getting help for a family member can be a very emotional decision. By having the conversations early the people making the decisions can be empowered by knowing preferences and options and are able to make better informed decisions.
It is easy for someone to say that guilt is a wasted emotion but the decision to ask or get assistance can be surrounded with a massive amount of guilt. Getting a clear understanding of the implications of decision can assist in helping you make logic informed decisions. Logic and understanding can remove some of the guilt associated with reaching out to a formal care arrangement.
Understanding what you are signing up for when choosing a care option
Unless it is a major crisis it is unlikely that you will go from not requiring any care with daily tasks to needing to go to a residential aged care facility. Understating access to assistance and care arrangements can allow you to transition from totally independent lifestyle to a more assisted care arrangement.
In the heat of the moment the pressure of time and having to make decisions for someone who traditionally made their own decisions can be mean that you make a financial decision without fully understanding the financial impact. The decision of where someone is going to live and what level of care, they are going to receive is immense. The care option chosen can have a significantly impact of a persons living arrangements and is a huge financial commitment.
When someone moves into the senior years of retirement some of the decision-making falls to members of the family that have not traditionally made the decisions.
A typical situation is that Mum or Dad have been living independently and have been the masters of their own destiny. Ideally the options have been considered and there is a clear understanding of the preferred care arrangements. What we often see is that this isn’t the case and that an informal care arrangement is in place and works for a period of time. When the wheels start to fall off more members of the family may buy into the situation and question why certain decisions are being made. Having a clear plan can help communicate the reasons behind these decisions.
Small well-informed steps.
Initial retirement tends to be in the family home, within an established community and surrounded by friends and family. As we approach the senior years of retirement:
- some of that community has moved on;
- children get busy with their own family; and
- care needs increase.
Informal care arrangements are adequate, daughter or son taking parents shopping, doing the occasional load of washing, mowing the lawn all enable sustained periods of time without formal care arrangements being necessary.
Understand the wishes, understand who are to be the decision makers. Don’t wait for a crisis that necessitates the decisions to be made under pressure. Understanding the implications of decisions is paramount. A decision may not be the best financial decision, but it may mean that estate intentions are maintained, that it aligns with the wishes of the person in their senior years of retirement.
Differing opinions, financial pressure and misinformation can lead to:
- inadequate care;
- significant implications on fees;
- changes in Aged Pension entitlement; and
- compromising of the value of the Estate or unintentionally altering estate intentions.
Change is invertible and often unpredictable. We often hear the words Mum doesn’t want to go to care, Dad wants to stay in the family home. The reality is that these decisions are often putting people in a vulnerable position. The pressure on the informal carers personal relationships can be hard, the risk of injury of the person staying in the home are all unintended real consequences of people trying to do what they think is the right thing.
We have to sell the house is also a common thing we hear and the majority of the time the unintended consequences of this is the loss of a regular Aged Pension income.
Along the retirement journey there are mechanisms and options available to modify and assist with living arrangements as we age. Knowing how to access and understanding the language used can assist in understanding the financial implications. The puzzle of the Aged Care space can be difficult to understand and decisions can have unintended consequences.
With access to technology, as simple as online grocery shopping or as complex as home renovations means people are able to remain in their home. However, as we progress through the retirement years there are other options from granny flats, retirement villages, lifestyle parks to residential aged care. But don’t wait for a crisis to start looking at available options and understanding the views of others.
Our team of specialists can road map the journey for you and help facilitate better decision making process.
Depending on your individual financial circumstance the outcome of the options available to you could be different. If you would like to discuss your options for which Aged Care accommodation strategy could work better for you or your family members, please contact our Aged Care team.