Aged care: Why you need to talk
FAILING to plan for the cost of future aged care is putting Australia's over-50s at risk of financial struggles later in life.
Many are enjoying their retirement with overseas travel but are putting off discussing the next stage of their lives, according to a new study by Absolute Care & Health and social researcher McCrindle.
It found just 9 per cent have a financial plan or savings plan for their future aged care, and three-quarters have not taken any steps towards getting the care they would want.
Forty per cent worry that they won't be able to pay for it, and 43 per cent aren't confident in the government's ability to help.
Absolute Care & Health CEO Maria Deveson Crabbe said "having the conversation" was a big barrier for many.
"We don't like to discuss our mortality. We don't like to think things will come to an end," she said.
Ms Deveson Crabbe said it was a good idea to turn the discussion into positive planning about "long, healthy, happy lives".
"We have some incredible clients in their late 90s who are out and about," she said.
"Start with a happy thought: 'I'm going to live for a long time and I want to be at my best as long as possible'.
"A lot of families who have put thought into it have worked out a plan involving a balance of government care, family care and rotating care."
Home care has been booming in Australia as more and more retirees want to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Despite extra government funding, long waiting lists remain for home care packages - putting many people under financial pressure.
The research found almost half of over-50s had not discussed their future care with anybody - not even their spouses.
"Many Australians are neglecting to adequately plan and prepare," Ms Deveson Crabbe said.
"Because people aren't talking about the money side now as a family, when it comes time to act, everybody's not ready. People haven't thought about the piece between active retirement and passing away."
She said there were some great specialist financial planners available to help.
Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said people thinking about aged care generally pictured a nursing home.
"Aged care no longer refers to nursing homes but refers to a 'continuum-of-care' service model," he said.
"There are three main types of service choices: home care, residential aged care and retirement living, but hybrid and new innovative models are emerging linking these options."
Mr Rooney said most older Australians were keen to live independently at home as long as they were able to.
Talking about a loved one's needs as they aged could be confronting for all - the older person, their family and carers, he said.
"Discussing aged care planning can be challenging. The aged care system is complex and at times difficult to navigate."
A good starting point is the Federal Government's My Aged Care online and phone service. "You can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422, or access online at myagedcare.gov.au, Mr Rooney said.
ASK THESE QUESTIONS:
- What lifestyle do I want to live?
- What goals do I have in life?
- What's my eligibility for government subsidies in home care or residential aged care?
- Are there any entry fees for services?
- What ongoing fees are there and what do they cover?
- Are there exit fees for services?
Source: Leading Age Services Australia