Care to get move on

A late start to aged care plan­ning can be costly, writes An­thony Keane

The Western Star - - MONEY SAVER -

SE­NIOR Aus­tralians are wait­ing too long to think about aged care, putting un­nec­es­sary strain on them­selves and their fi­nances.

De­spite more choice be­ing of­fered around aged care, the sys­tem re­mains a maze for most peo­ple and is be­com­ing more user-pays.

Aged care spe­cial­ists say that while the av­er­age age of peo­ple en­ter­ing res­i­den­tial care is around 83, peo­ple should start think­ing about and plan­ning for their fu­ture needs in their 50s and 60s.

De­lay­ing de­ci­sions can in­crease stress when a cri­sis oc­curs, while long wait­ing lists for new home care pack­ages mean that over-65s need to pre­pare ear­lier.

Age Care Di­rec­tions ex­ec­u­tive man­ager An­drew Bo­den said many peo­ple put off think­ing about it be­cause they did not want to lose in­de­pen­dence, did not want car­ers in their homes, and had heard neg­a­tive sto­ries about nurs­ing homes.

“They see it as a neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

“The big­gest is­sue with aged care and ac­com­mo­da­tion is the lack of ed­u­ca­tion, with mis­in­for­ma­tion preva­lent, and part of the rea­son is that peo­ple are fear­ful.”

Home care pack­ages were over­hauled last year to give se­niors greater choice in spend­ing their gov­ern­ment fund­ing of up to $49,000 an­nu­ally to help them to stay at home. Wait­ing lists for these pack­ages have grown be­yond a year, and Mr Bo­den said peo­ple might be able to get a low­er­level home care pack­age – per­haps $16,000 a year – as an in­terim step, or ben­e­fit from the Com­mon­wealth Home Sup­port Pro­gram which de­liv­ered dis­counted ser­vices.

Lead­ing Age Ser­vices Aus­tralia CEO Sean Rooney said the long wait­ing list for home care and res­i­den­tial care, while un­ac­cept­able, could be man­aged with ex­tra help from fam­ily, friend and com­mu­nity groups. He said the myaged­care.gov.au por­tal was also a good sup­port for aged care plan­ning.

Ad­van­tage One Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Ven­ning said early ad­vice could lead to se­niors not pay­ing more than they should.

“Talk with your fam­ily. Have them un­der­stand your feel­ings and needs. Get help. Do your re­search,” he said.

Mr Ven­ning said the idea of hav­ing to give up the fam­ily home to move into aged care was false, al­though “with re­cent gov­ern­ment changes it is less at­trac­tive to rent the fam­ily home, as the rental in­come is now part as­sessed”.

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