Aged care: Prepare for the unexpected

Apr 18, 2023 | Aged Care, Retirement, Wealth

Recently retired couple, David and Erica, were fit and active, and planning a sea-change when David suffered a stroke, leaving him unable to walk or speak.

David had been a strong, strapping man, who now needed around-the-clock care. His doctor recommended either an aged care facility or a home-carer that provided appropriate services.

Over the course of their 25 year marriage, the couple had discussed many things, but not this.

Erica didn’t know what David’s wishes would have been, and as he was now unable to communicate them, she was forced to make a decision she was unprepared for.

None of us wants to confront our own mortality, but uncomfortable discussions shouldn’t be avoided.

Neither David nor Erica expected their situation to change as it did, so hadn’t broached the what if, questions, like:

  • What if I become terminally ill?
  • What if I’m placed on life support?
  • What if I become incapacitated?

Now, Erica had to face these questions alone.

Naturally, her first concern was David’s welfare, but overlaying that was her fear that she’d have to sell her home to be able to afford suitable care. A friend told her that aged care costs were tied to her assets, so Erica should give some of her property and valuables away to reduce fees.

Erica was devasted!

David’s doctor referred Erica to an aged care specialist, Shirley.

Erica hadn’t heard of aged care specialists, but Shirley immediately put her mind at ease, explaining that selling the family home and reducing assets, were major misconceptions around aged care.

Once the financial pressure was lifted, Erica was able to breathe easier, and review the options available for David’s circumstances.

The government offers a range of aged care services and subsidies, and Shirley provided information about the different packages that would suit David, and helped Erica understand how they worked, the application process, and how they could be scaled-up as David’s condition worsened over time.

Sadly, aged care is often something that is never considered until it’s needed. However doing your research ahead of time, and choosing for yourself, can be empowering; you’re taking control of your life and unburdening your loved ones from making decisions during a stressful time.

After suitable arrangements had been made for David, Shirley suggested that Erica turn her attention to her own future needs. 

For example, Erica might one day utilise a government funded home care arrangement designed to support her ongoing independence in the family home. They range from basic day-to-day services like housework, food preparation and gardening, to hygiene and nursing services.

Shirley went on to suggest that Erica also consider:

  • appointing medical and financial Powers of Attorney,
  • ensuring her Will was up to date,
  • contacting a professional estate planner.

Shirley also recommended that Erica speak with her financial adviser since David’s condition had altered their plans for a sea-change.

Throughout our working lives we set goals for retirement and develop strategies for funding them, but our forward planning tends to end there.

It doesn’t take much, and there are professionals available to assist, so when ticking off your retirement planning checkboxes, tick one more, and have a say in your own aged care.

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Australian Unity Personal Financial Services Limited (ABN 26 098 725 145), AFS Licence no. 234459.