How to successfully navigate the aged care discussion with a loved one

May 10, 2023
Having the aged care conversation with a loved one can be a challenging but necessary step in ensuring their wellbeing as they age. Source: Getty Images.

Having a conversation with a loved one about aged care can be a difficult and emotional experience. It may involve discussing the potential need for support, changes to living arrangements, and the management of finances and healthcare.

However, having this conversation is crucial to ensure that your loved one receives the care and support they need as they age. It can also provide peace of mind for both you and your loved one, knowing that plans have been put in place for the future. While it may be uncomfortable to initiate this conversation, it is an important step toward ensuring the best possible care for your loved one.

The family meeting

A family meeting might be with the entire family or just with your loved ones – every family is different.

The important part is that you have an opportunity to understand your loved ones needs and wishes so you can seek advice to start building an action plan and ensure the family has certainty in the path forward.

Even if your parents or loved ones don’t need extra support right now, it’s good to have a plan and understand their wishes when they do need that extra help.

If you are that older person in the conversation, it is crucial to make yourself heard while still maintaining your control and independence so you can participate in putting strategies in place.

At the end of the day, it can be an uncomfortable conversation. But making these big decisions for someone else once a crisis has occurred can be incredibly hard, especially if you don’t have a clear understanding of your parents’ or loved one’s preferences.

Planning and professional advice are the keys to quality care and effective decision-making. Your plan needs to consider strategies to ensure the home environment and care supports are appropriate and how to fund quality levels of care.

Handling conflicts

Emotional conflicts between family members can make the transition to Aged Care more distressing and potentially cause unnecessary friction between family members. However, a family meeting to plan for aged care can minimise future conflicts within your family.

A well-run family meeting can allow parents, children and other family members to discuss issues and preferences, express concerns and make decisions that work for your family as a whole. To assist with this, you may consider an independent third party to help facilitate the meeting. Someone who is objective but understands the aged care system can assist with arranging and running a family meeting to help everyone see the options more clearly.

When to start the Aged Care conversation?

If a crisis has occurred and your parents or loved ones can’t return home from the hospital, you are in crisis mode, and this is generally not the best time to be making life-changing decisions. So the earlier you have the aged care conversation, the better.

Planning ensures that parents are fully involved in the decision-making and removes some of the stress from other family members. With a well-organised plan in place, your family can respond more quickly and effectively when an event requiring a move to aged care occurs.

What to discuss?

By allowing your parents or loved ones to think about what is important to them and give you some instructions, you have something to guide you if you need to make choices for them in the future.

Understanding the steps to get that extra support can assist you to maintain your family members’ independence for longer.

As a carer of a loved one who needs additional help, seeing if you are eligible for government support with tasks, even as simple as cleaning, can significantly lift the emotional and physical load. Remember that there are resources available, and it is okay to seek help when you need it.

Professional advice

Seeking objective advice can help navigate the aged care system, identifying the information that is meaningful and relevant to your decisions. There is no denying that these conversations are challenging, but sooner or later these hard decisions may need to be made, and it is better to plan early when your loved ones can participate in the decision-making process and make their wishes clear.

Making an informed decision about aged care is incredibly important, as making the wrong decision can have far-reaching consequences for the whole family.

Aged care financial advice is a specialist area, and the rules constantly change, as do the available strategies. Seek out an accredited aged care adviser to ensure you get the most appropriate advice for your circumstances.


IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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