Aged care decisions for a loved one, be it a parent, partner, or another family member, often come laden with emotions. You want to find the best care facility, but likely have little time to make a decision, not to mention wrapping your head around the complex residential aged care system. During these times, decision-making can be incredibly difficult. To assist, here’s a guide to help you through the process.
Establish power of attorney sooner rather than later
Before making any transition to aged care, especially when cognitive impairments are present, ensure that you have in place a power of attorney and power of guardianship. These documents appoint individual/s to make financial and medical/lifestyle decisions if you’re unable to. Only individuals in a clear mental state can appoint, so it’s vital to do this early. Your adviser can support you in engaging a lawyer and other competent professionals to draft these appointments.
Engage the family promptly
Given the sensitivity of aged care, early family discussions are essential. Everyone should be on the same page, focusing on the best interests of your loved one. Start by discussing your collective wishes and define everyone’s role in the care process.
You might find that your loved one can’t participate in discussions given their impairment such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Where possible though, try to include them in the discussion if their condition allows. Simply listening, and ensuring that their voice is heard can create autonomy and give them dignity.
Research your choices
Protocols will vary from state to state, but all require a medical assessment, often termed ACAT or ACAS. This evaluation dictates the required care level.
Your adviser can support you in understanding the spectrum of care options. From home care packages that provide on-site care, to residential facilities. If you choose to be the primary caregiver, consider respite care to alleviate potential burnout. In many cases, government support may be available for some of these services.
Survey care facilities
What care options do you want for your loved one? Choosing the right residential facility involves numerous considerations. Whether it’s proximity to the primary caregiver or remaining close to friends, try to factor in all preferences. Visit multiple facilities, taking note of their offerings and ambiance. Engaging with a placement agent can streamline the selection and application process for a facility.
Understand the financial commitment
Aged care is expensive, but you have options. Typically, the costs involved include;
- Residential Accommodation Deposit (RAD): A refundable payment for the room, which could go up to $550k or more with government approval.
- Ongoing Care Costs: Daily payments for basic care, with optional additions for extra services.
Financing options for RAD vary. It can be paid in full, partially, or not at all, impacting the ongoing costs. Many families consider selling their home to cover care costs, but this may affect government benefits like pensions. Other options include renting the home, but this comes with its own challenges.
Remember that there is no right answer. The best option for you depends on your personal circumstances. During times like this, your adviser is crucial in these financial deliberations.
We all want what’s best for our loved ones. While the aged care system can be challenging to navigate, particularly when it comes to financing, remember that you have options. If you’re exploring care solutions for a loved one, we’re always here to support you.