22 December 2012

Talking Aged Care options – Take a close look at ageing parents needs this Christmas

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As we look forward to the holiday season (OK, not all of us really love it) and the chance to take a break from work we often take the opportunity to catch up with family, particularly elderly parents who may not live as close. We see this a lot in Castle Hill and Windsor where family have moved elsewhere for careers.

You may not have had regular visits during the year as your own family and work commitments can seem to lead to even busier lives and trips to parents become an issue put on the back burner. This holiday time can be period when families come together and have an opportunity to observe how well their ageing parent(s) are coping.

Don’t be alarmed but often it is at this time of year that adult children may also begin to notice changes in the abilities and metal capacity of their ageing parents.

It can at this time that a sudden distressing reality hits that your parents who were so strong and independent may soon require outside help to manage their day affairs. It’s not a time for guilt that you should have noticed earlier but some hard decisions may need to be made on future care needs.

Many children and parents will need professional guidance but all too often this is left until the last minute when they become deluged with paperwork and often Aged Care brochures. People struggle with this “unknown territory” and often have to act in haste which further upsets their elderly parents during a terrifying period of loss of independence.

On the other hand I have had a number of clients and their children or parents  in the last year come in planning for the future because of early stage dementia or other illnesses that will get progressively more debilitating. By looking at the options earlier and getting the elderly person’s input, it can be much easier to adapt to the situation when it arises.

We normally see a rash of appointment requests early in the New Year when people want to address the issues and plan ahead. Clients with elderly parents may find this time of year is a chance to raise issues with parents in relation to their future well being and care. Likewise parents may want input from their children who they want involved in future decisions through Enduring Powers of Attorney or Guardianship.

The value of a family meeting

Unfortunately when it comes to family most dread the idea of raising these issues for fear of upsetting one or other parent or sibling. We find that having a family meeting with a Financial Planner mediating can help in reducing the angst among siblings and help structure a successful discussion of the options rather than a meeting that gets out of hand because of emotions. We often spend time before hand getting an idea of each persons thoughts so that and prepare an agenda which includes discussion of their concerns.

The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) identified the following challenges in the aged care space in Australia which include significant shifts in the type of care demanded, with:

  • an increased preference for independent living arrangements and choice in aged care services,
  • greater levels of affluence among older people, recognising that income and asset levels vary widely;
  • changing patterns of disease among the aged, including the increasing incidence of chronic disease such as dementia, severe arthritis and serious visual and hearing impairments, and the costs associated with care;
  • reduced access to carers and family support due to changes in social and economic circumstances;
  • the diverse geographic spread of the Australian population; and
  • an increasing need for psycho geriatric care and for skilled palliative care;

The earlier families take the steps to address the issues and solutions available, the better the outcome. Planning in advance rather than reacting on the spot 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, families can respond more quickly and effectively when an event necessitating a move to aged care occurs.

Our role as a family adviser can alleviate your family’s anxieties by providing them with the benefit of previous experiences and knowledge of the “system” as well as unemotional advice. Our guidance can help everyone see the big picture more objectively, allowing them to consider the best options for their care, security and happiness.

For a one on one discussion about you, your spouse or your parents’ aged care needs please contact Michael or Liam at our Castle Hill or Windsor Offices for an appointment to discuss the solutions available to you.

The author is an employee of Verante Financial Planning in Castle Hill, Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Limited, Licence No 221557, Magnitude Group Limited ABN 54 086 266 202.

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