Karl Hunting
Karl Hunting

Senior Financial Adviser


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Having hard conversations about aged care

Most of us look forward to getting together with family to relax and unwind, not to have difficult conversations about how to care for aging parents or grandparents.

Yet, with our busy lives, holidays and special ocasions are often a time when we see relatives we may not have seen for a while. Getting to spend more concentrated time together can make adult children and their siblings more aware of declines in the health and wellbeing of their loved ones and in some cases, to question their ability to live independently at home. It can be a chance to better observe their mobility, mental health and memory after some time apart, and the rate of decline can sometimes be alarming.

This why the Aged Care admissions often surge in January/February and why the government’s My Aged Care website typically receives a spike in traffic and enquires.

At FMD, our team of expert aged care advisers can help you transition a loved one to aged care and consider all the important financial considerations and their implications for the whole family.

Here’s some of their guidance for recognising the need for a transition to aged care and the process to follow:

Try to stay ahead of your loved one’s decline

It is natural for everyone to be in denial about the need for a loved one to go into Aged Care. Few aging parents or grandparents want to make the move and adult children understandably try to support their desire to remain at home for along as possible. But when the writing is on the wall that your loved one can’t cope – early signs may be forgetting to take medication, food spoiling in the fridge and increased frailty or declining mobility – it’s time to take action. The rate of decline in these areas can be fast and you’ll have more options and less stress if you start the process as soon as possible.

Download our guide to the 7 Steps to Aged Care Planning here.

Determine if there are alternatives to residential aged care

While worth exploring, in-home care is usually insufficient at this stage, if available at all, given chronic staff shortages in many areas. If your loved one can’t live independently at home due to cognitive decline or mobility issues, a few hours a week of cleaning or grocery support are realistically not going to cut it.

At this stage, unless a family member can live with their loved one as a full-time carer, which may also require significant and costly home modifications, residential care is the only viable option.

Get good advice and start the process early

Our expert age care advisers can help by modelling aged care fees and funding options to give the family certainty and offer independent guidance for siblings to raise and discuss all the current and future financial planning issues that come with these decisions. Aged Care contracts are complex, and it is crucial to put the right arrangements in place for funding residential care and managing assets at this time. Without advice you could be eroding family wealth and paying more than you need to.

As well as guiding you through the financial planning aspects of aged care, our team has a comprehensive knowledge of the process of gaining a place, reviewing contracts and transitioning a loved one into Aged Care.

Do your best to avoid the ‘carpark conversation’

This article focusses on staying ahead of your loved one’s decline and having constructive planning discussions and clear actions over several weeks or months. Unfortunately, if left to late too late, you can end up having what is dubbed the ‘car park conversation’ where your loved one ends up in hospital with an acute illness or injury and is assessed as being unable to return home to live independently.

Mobility issues, falls and dementia are the big instigators of last-minute aged care admissions. Hospitals usually only provide an acute care bed for around five days and after this time they can organise aged care assessments and place your loved one in any available aged care bed. This may mean your loved one is placed far away from family and friends in residential care that is not suitable for their needs or convenient if family wish to be nearby. This highlights the importance of acting early, as any form of preplanning can reduce, or prevent, unplanned entrance into an aged care facility.

If we can help you to support a loved one in the transition to age care, please contact your adviser. You can also refer family and friends who may need support to our expert aged care team.

They can book an appointment with one of our aged care advisers online here.

General advice disclaimer: This article has been prepared by FMD Financial and is intended to be a general overview of the subject matter. The information in this article is not intended to be comprehensive and should not be relied upon as such. In preparing this article we have not taken into account the individual objectives or circumstances of any person. Legal, financial and other professional advice should be sought prior to applying the information contained on this article to particular circumstances. FMD Financial, its officers and employees will not be liable for any loss or damage sustained by any person acting in reliance on the information contained on this article. FMD Group Pty Ltd ABN 99 103 115 591 trading as FMD Financial is a Corporate Authorised Representative of FMD Advisory Services Pty Ltd AFSL 232977. The FMD advisers are Authorised Representatives of FMD Advisory Services Pty Ltd AFSL 232977. Rev Invest Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative of FMD Advisory Services Pty Ltd AFSL 232977.