For those of you who are close to retirement or have already retired, a large component of your time may be devoted towards caring for an elderly parent. We are all aware of our ageing population and people are living longer, however, as a society, we appear to be underestimating the impact of caring for an elderly parent can have on our lives, our time and our financial situation.

Since 1 July 2014, the Federal Government enacted changes to support elderly Australians to remain in the family home for longer by introducing Home Care packages. This represents the start of an elderly persons care journey (following assessment by Aged Care Assessment Team) giving access to services based on the level of support that is required.  Accessing different organisations to deliver the care package can provide relief to the wider family and provide peace of mind that your elderly parent is being looked after.

The fees for Home Care packages are means tested and working with a financial adviser who is an Aged Care specialist may help you understand what income and assets are assessed. More importantly, they can also help investigate the different financial options or alterations required which may deliver reduce the care fees, increased aged pension entitlement and improved cash flow. The financial adviser can also assist to determine the long term impact to your assets and whether the personal contribution towards to the cost of care is sustainable.

Unfortunately, most people do not plan for their entry into an aged care facility and it is done as the result of a sudden change in circumstances or health. This means that the move from the family home into a new environment can be very daunting for all parties involved. Deciding which facility will meet your elderly parents’ needs whilst dealing with the anguish that you are moving your parent into care can be very complex and professional advice can provide much-needed relief and clarity.

Each person’s journey into full-time care is unique but some common themes exist.

  • For the elderly parent, it is traumatic. There is often resistance and objections as they wish to remain in the home for as long as possible.
  • For the adult children, it is also traumatic having an elderly parent in this situation requires a significant amount of time, effort and transformation in the relationship. This time in their lives is a significant event and should be recognised as such by our society.

The entry into an aged care facility can be seamless for some families, but difficult for others who have to overcome a number of issues within the adult/child relationship, financial concerns, accessing appropriate care and addressing issues with other siblings.

Working with an Aged Care specialist adviser who has demonstrated skills and knowledge, can assist your family to navigate through this complicated life event. Your adviser can help you and your family to make informed decisions, whilst taking into consideration the impact to your parents’ financial situation, age pension entitlement and aged care costs. Making the wrong decision could result in a loss of age pension, increased aged care costs and a reduced estate to be passed on to the next generation.

What can you do to make a difference now?

This is a question that we are asked from time to time. There is a simple answer. Start having the conversation about your parents care journey and understand their wishes, feelings, fears, concerns and opposition to accepting external help. Why? Entry into an aged care facility usually happens quite quickly due to ill health or an accident. The more you understand the situation, the better equipped you will be to make the right decisions.

So what next?

As much as you need to prepare your elderly parent for the care journey, it is important to understand your feelings and thoughts along with the standard of care that you would like your elderly parent to have. Speak to your partner and siblings, as this significant life event may occur more than once.