Rebecca Poynton
Rebecca Poynton

Senior Financial Adviser


Talk to us about Aged Care today

Supporting a parent in the move to aged care

Raising concerns when an elderly parent’s health or wellbeing at home is in decline, is one of the hardest conversations you’ll ever have as an adult child. And if needed, supporting their transition to residential aged care may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do.

From our experience supporting clients on this difficult journey, these tips can help you prepare:

Expect a change in your child/parent relationship

It’s an emotional time for everyone in the family, but for adult children, who often bear the brunt of the emotional, practical and financial planning for the move to aged care – especially for the last remaining parent - it’s particularly confronting.

With women's average life expectancy now 85 in Australia, compared with men's at 80, it's often our mothers who go into care after nursing their partner. This is why two in three people using aged care services are women.

It’s difficult to see a parent who has always been strong and capable, unable to care for themselves and possibly lacking judgement about how well they are doing and what support might be needed next. It’s a role reversal of sorts, where you suddenly find yourself parenting your parent. Instead of them watching out for you as they’ve done all your life, you now feel responsible for their wellbeing.

You may need to check their spending and bank accounts or wonder if you can be sure they’ve taken their medication, locked the front door or eaten a meal. Anticipating this changing relationship can help you prepare and build resilience.

Understand your parent will need time to adjust

Elderly parents may also be in denial that they need more support and understandably struggle to face the reality of their declining independence.

Sometimes the family can work together effectively to extend the parent’s time at home through regular visits, home modifications, meal preparation, providing transport and shopping assistance, either directly or through government funded home care packages or private in-home care.

Talk about the need for support early and often

According to the experts, the key is to talk about the need for more support early and often. Gradually adjusting support levels up will be easier when an elderly parent has agreed to an initial series of small interventions.

Letting things go until the situation becomes a crisis, often means an urgent move to residential care that is stressful for everyone and may mean you have less choice over the type and location of aged care facility.

Avoiding making promises even if you want to

Losing their independence is a grieving process for elderly people and after the first stage of grief, denial, comes bargaining.

Your parent may want to recruit you to their mission against residential aged care. While it’s natural to feel heartbroken for their predicament, you may also know the time has come where residential care is the only viable option.

Partners and children can feel guilt or even a sense of betrayal when they can no longer support their parent’s desire to remain at home. That burden will be easier to bear if you listen and empathise without making promises you can’t keep.

Know the facts about your aged care options

They say knowledge is power and this is never truer than with aged care arrangements.

Whether you’re looking at home care packages or residential care options, the system can be difficult to navigate. In the case of residential aged care, there is a wide range of standards between the best and worst centres, so look at the options in your area and tour a few places before the need is urgent.

Be mindful that many of the better facilities will have waiting lists, so if the writing is on the wall, start looking now. After all, this will be your parent’s home and meeting as many of their needs as possible can make a big difference to their acceptance of aged care and their quality of life in care.

Get help to properly consider the different funding models

Our advisers are experienced helping clients consider the different funding models associated with residential aged care and the impact on long term wealth.

Contracts are notoriously complex, and clients often find themselves under pressure to make big financial decisions relating to how to fund aged care today, while preserving family wealth down the track.

To ensure you make the best decision and reduce stress, it’s crucial to seek advice before signing a contract. This process can also help siblings get on the same page about the financial implications of care and minimise potential conflicts.

Take care of yourself as well as your parent

The move to residential aged care often comes after a long period of offering intensive support and care to your parent or after the shock and pain of an acute illness or injury that makes it impossible for your parent to remain at home.

As well as supporting them, it’s important to take good care of yourself. Lean on family and friends for support and practice good self-care, including sleep, nutrition and exercise and remember to find time to laugh and experience joy.

It can be very stressful supporting ageing parents through the transition to aged care and our advisers are always here to provide clarity and support.

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.