Last year the Australian Capital Territory had the highest rate of admissions to permanent residential aged care. This means many of us can relate to what is a complex, often difficult, situation. Louise Biti, director, Aged Care Steps, describes three powerful emotions that drive discussions and decisions about moving into an aged care facility: guilt, grief and greed. She has seen families running at an emotional high because they are not sure what to do, where to go, or how they are going to pay for a loved one moving into aged care. “When families are in crisis mode, rational decisions are hard to make,” says Louise. “Thinking about aged care ahead of time allows for more informed decision making.”
Here’s how to navigate the three Gs of moving into residential aged care.
In Louise’s experience, families are often left feeling guilty because they are not clear about the wishes of a parent or loved one – and are put in a position to make a rushed decision about aged care when a parent falls ill or has been hospitalised.
In this stressful scenario, a rushed decision can have irreversible financial implications.
For this reason, Louise Biti strongly advises senior Australians and their families or loved ones to “act now”. By getting good advice early, feelings of confusion or betrayal will be avoided, leaving families to make hard decisions with confidence.
Most of us hope to maintain our independence for as long as possible. Grief can result when there is a disconnect between the decision makers – parents and their children. Louise recommends centring conversations on important preferences, ahead of time.
She suggests seeking answers to the following questions:
Which family members will be responsible for making decisions?
Who has the enduring power of attorney?
Who has the enduring power of guardianship?
How does the parent(s) expect family members to behave and interact?
What financial decisions would need to be made?
Louise has observed that when decisions are made at crisis point, irrational feelings can bubble to the surface, including strong emotions about money.
“I don’t think families notice it consciously and they are not always malicious or negative, they are just natural human emotions,” she says.
Louise encourages families to engage a qualified financial planner, accredited in aged care, to provide objective advice, including potential pitfalls and helpful strategies.
“Financial planners can save a lot of time and stress,” she says. “They also bring the benefit of hindsight because they have seen where people have made mistakes.”