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Planning ahead for aged care

The only topic people don’t like talking about more than death is getting old and becoming incapable of looking after oneself.

Sadly, with the Australian population over the age of 70 likely to reach nearly four million in the next 20 years, aged care is an issue that will be of increasing concern to a growing number of people.

It is not just older Australians who need to understand how aged care works – anyone with aging parents might find themselves having to understand a complex system at short notice.

Many people will make private arrangements for their retirement living.

They might stay in their own homes, perhaps with help from family or other carers. Some will move into a retirement village and retain their independence. For others, a time will come when they need a higher level of care.

Levels of care

Residential aged care is provided at either low level such as hostels, or high level – nursing homes.

Some facilities will provide both levels of care, and the standards of different homes vary from basic to luxurious.

Not surprisingly, costs vary accordingly. The government merged high and low-level care into a single level of care for all residential aged-care facilities on July 1, last year.

Government support

The government provides substantial help with the costs of aged care, and eligibility for government support is determined by Aged Care Assessment Teams.

Aside from making an assessment of the need and level of care required, the ACAT could also be able to help in finding an appropriate place.

Most people prefer to make their own choice, and it is worthwhile visiting various facilities.

Quite often available places are subject to existing vacancies so it might be necessary to apply to a few establishments.

Fee structure

In most cases a contribution towards the costs of aged care is required. Contributions vary and depend upon income, assets and pensioner status.

Fees include accommodation bonds, low-level care, accommodation fees, high-level care and both basic and income-tested daily care fees.

Fees are revised twice yearly in line with pension revisions. Care recipients have the option of paying an upfront refundable deposit or a rent-style periodic payment.

Not all needs are the same

Sometimes the need for aged care can arise at short notice. For example, a stroke or a broken hip might be the trigger for an immediate move.

The stress of entering aged care can be considerable and this isn’t helped by the overwhelming range of facilities on offer and the complexity of funding arrangements.

The emotional upheaval on all parties can be eased by early planning and open discussion within families.

And although nobody wants to talk about it, planning for aged care is the best course of action.

• Robert Goudie is an authorised representative at Meritum Financial Group Pty Ltd AFSL 245569.

 

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Posted on Apr 29 2015

Posted by on Apr 29 2015. Filed under Finance advice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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