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older woman's hand on husband's hand as she comforts him in his hospital bed: canula showing: she contemplates their future. seeking a better aged care outcome

A better Aged Care outcome

A better Aged Care outcome.  This analogy reworks an old adage (that ‘Proper preparation prevents poor performance’) we consider some important truisms.  As we progress through life, we encounter events that will have been possible, sometimes probable, and others inevitable.  What are some of these possible, probable, inevitable events?  Think about how you prepare for –

  • a house fire,
  • a car crash,
  • becoming ill or injured,
  • loved ones becoming ill or injured, and
  • retirement and need for aged care.

Most of these events have similar characteristics.  With careful planning we can mitigate the impacts of emotional, financial, personal ‘freedom’, and life strategies  of such events.

What better Aged Care outcome can we expect?

For each of the above scenarios (and others), strategic planning to deal with identifiable consequences is a sound starting point.  In terms of the assets involved, managing the consequences of a house fire or a car crash is relatively simple.  Presumably, you would like to rebuild your home and would have insured it against such an event for an appropriate amount.  With cars, there are even fewer decisions to make, and insurance is a significant part of the answer to dealing here.  Most of us insure somewhat passive assets to protect their continued availability to us.

When it comes to personal events, poor performance will almost always come from a lack of planning/ preparation.  In this case, a series of questions need to be considered, including –

  • how badly does the injury or illness impact mobility, or require an attendant carer?
  • will the injured/ ill person be able to stay in the home?
  • what are the financial impacts of the afflicted person on
    • family financial strategic planning?
    • ongoing health care?
  • are there arrangements in place to deal with their decision-making (on treatment, residency, etc)?

A Case Study

Approaching retirement, Claude and Dawn, were fit and active and planning a tree-change to see out their retirement.  Unexpectedly, the usually healthy, active Claude suffered a stroke, leaving him unable to walk or speak.  He also now needed around-the-clock care.

His doctor recommended either an aged care facility or a home carer that provided appropriate services.

Throughout their 35-year marriage, the couple had discussed many things, but hadn’t contemplated this.

Dawn didn’t know what Claude’s wishes would have been in this circumstance as he was now non-communicative.  Dawn felt forced into making decisions for which she felt unprepared.  Now, she had to face the issue of Aged Care outcomes without Claude’s input.

Caring for Claude

Naturally, in this situation, her first concern was Claude’s welfare.  But alongside that was her fear that she’d have to sell their home to be able to afford suitable care.  Dawn had heard that aged care costs were tied to a couple’s assets.  Friends had told her that giving away some of her property and valuables would reduce those costs and fees.  She was not prepared to have to deal with that and was keen to get further, informed advice.

Claude’s doctor gave Dawn the name of an Aged Care specialist financial planner with experience and recognition in this area.   

Advice for Dawn

They immediately Dawn at ease by explaining that selling the family home and reducing assets were not the only solution.  They explained that these so-called strategies were major misconceptions around aged care.

With that emotional and financial pressure contained, Dawn was better able to review the options available for Claude’s care needs.  The Aged Care specialist provided information about the different packages that would suit Claude and helped her understand the process.

They explained the government’s offers over a range of aged care services and subsidies.  They also advised how these services could be scaled-up as Claude’s condition worsened over time.

After suitable arrangements had been made for Claude, Dawn was able to concentrate her own future needs.

Future Aged Care options

She considered that a government funded home care arrangement supporting her ongoing independence in the family home appealing.  Support such as basic day-to-day services like housework, food preparation, and gardening, to hygiene and nursing services would make that possibility achievable.

Dawn’s Aged Care specialist financial planner also went on to suggest that she consider:

  • attending to her Estate Planning, including –
  • appointing medical and financial Powers of Attorney, and
  • ensuring her Will was up to date,
  • undertaking a financial planning review of their financial situation since their circumstances had materially changed.

None of us wants to confront our own mortality, but uncomfortable discussions shouldn’t be avoided.  The above Case Study exposes the need to address the ‘what ifs’ of life, such as –

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

… and consider who will be impacted, how care will be funded, where it should be delivered and what lifestyle changes will be made?

Sadly, aged care is often something that is only considered on the dawn of it being needed.  Doing your research ahead of time and engaging with an accredited Aged Care specialist will help you have informed control of the process.  Choosing the format of your care can be empowering for you.  It can also relieve your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions during a stressful time.

Financial Planning advice

As superannuation grows, and more Australians hold substantial investments in their accounts, there is an apathy towards that asset.  It is significant, but it is only part of the retirement funding journey.  SMART goals for retirement need to be set and strategies developed beyond advertising gimmickry by some Superannuation providers.   Our forward planning for this important phase of our lives, and of this asset, warrants the attention of experienced, qualified financial advisers.

The team of advisers at Continuum Financial Planners Pty Ltd include experienced, qualified (and accredited Aged Care specialists).  These professionals available to assist you, so when reviewing your retirement planning checklist, have a say in your own aged care and meet with us.  To arrange a meeting, we can be contacted by phone (07-34213456), or simply Book A Meeting.

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