At some stage we will all move a loved one into aged care. It will be emotional and stressful for all involved and a logistical and financial minefield.
Aged care is complex and without good planning and preparation, it could cost the family an abundance of stress and many tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it could have.
Following are seven basic tips to help you with the aged care process.
Make sure there are current wills and enduring powers of attorney (EPOA) which are stored in a safe place, well before they are needed. Waiting to review or create the documents until they are required is generally too late.
When the time comes, get an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessment ASAP. You cannot get into care without one that has 'permanent residential care' approval on it. It is a 'ticket to the aged care concert'.
Don't spend too much time looking at facilities too early. Aged care homes change all the time, new facilities open, old ones close down and a change in management can impact your decision on which facility to use. A facility 'feeling as much like home as possible' is as important as whether the facility is conveniently located and provides the services you require.
Carer fatigue is real. When an aged person is looking after another aged person (most likely their spouse), what you will find is that carer fatigue will set in and like two cards leaning against each other, one goes down and they both go down. Having a spouse carer is not always the best option and it should be carefully monitored for sustainability. Sometimes parents will mask the challenges they're facing in order to remain at home.
Don't leave it too long. I recently heard that somewhere around 80 per cent of all people entering aged care are because of a stroke or a fall. If you see Mum or Dad leaning on furniture to get around the house, they are one step away from a fall. It is a sign to get them assessed by ACAT and to start looking at available options to provide additional help.
Speak to a financial adviser who will work with your accountant and solicitor and specialises in aged care. There are special rules for farmers and graziers and if your adviser doesn't know about the 20-year farming rule, then they are not a specialist so find another one.
Structures or entities like family trusts, companies and partnerships are a minefield when it comes to assessing aged care costs. If you have been through a succession plan or have any of these structures investigate with your accountant and adviser early. Mum and/or Dad may still be involved in a trust or company to some degree, even if just on paper. In some cases it can take years to adjust the structures in preparation for care.
Finally, something to keep in mind if you are dealing with your husband or father nearing aged care.
"It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good" - Thomas Jefferson