How and why to have the Aged Care talk sooner rather than later

Jan 29, 2022
You may consider an independent third party to help facilitate the family meeting. Source: Getty

The festive season is typically when families come together, but it can also be a time when those in their 50s and 60s notice changes in their ageing parents or loved ones. This situation was perhaps even more common than usual over the recent new-year period, after longer time apart due to border restrictions.

The signs of ageing in a loved one are distressing and worrying for many. However, not facing the fact that our loved ones might need some extra help can result in not having an effective plan to grow old. And not having an effective plan can often mean not having adequate support to maintain their independence for as long as possible.

If you are concerned that your parent or loved one might need some extra support, it is most likely time for a family meeting. Such a meeting will help get everyone on the “same page” and talking about how to ensure ongoing needs are met. Having a clear path can alleviate much of the stress of making long-term decisions in a time of crisis in the future.

The family meeting

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

The important part is that you have an opportunity to understand your parents’ 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 for an older parent 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 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.

If you want to read more from Bill Savellis, click here. If you want to read more on Aged Care, click here.


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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