My wife and I have both had the unfortunate situation in the last year or so of having to arrange aged care for a parent. We found this to be not only an emotional situation, worrying about the future well being of our loved ones and feeling guilt at the obvious reluctance of our mothers to enter care, but also a very confusing and at times frustrating experience in trying to work out what was best financially.
This is a very stressful time for a family. The biggest contributing factor to the stress is that decisions need to be made so quickly. In my mother’s case, we were made aware of the availability of a vacancy in probably the most suitable facility for her and my father on Friday, by Monday she was in care. In my wife’s case, her mother entered respite care in a facility near where she had lived for most of her life but there was no long term vacancy. After only three weeks, and having spent a great deal of time in working out what was best for her, we received notification of a vacancy at a facility near us, and less than a week later she was in a new environment more than 500 km from her (former) home.
These two cases, whilst similar, have some important differences. My mother’s case occurred before 30th June 2014, My mother-in-law’s case after that date. My father remains living in the family home, my wife’s father passed away some years ago. Neither family had substantial assets outside of the family home, nor had they given any thought as to what they wanted, other than to be quite firmly of the view that they had no desire to enter care of any kind. Sadly their state of health took any alternative away from them and us.
The difference in circumstances illustrate what a minefield the aged care system can be, and how difficult it can be to obtain real answers in relation to what the financial circumstances will be. Many of your friends colleagues and peers will have a bundle of good advice, based on what they have experienced or what their friends have told them about when Auntie Beryl went into the nursing home. Suffice to say the “rules” changed on 1st July, and any past experiences are irrelevant to what happens today.
There ARE some good resources available on the web. I can highly recommend www.myagedcare.gov.au, as a starting point. This does tell you what the rules are, but to be frank, there are so many variables that it is unlikely you will come to any answer, let alone the right answer. Whilst the framework for how much an aged care patient is charged is legislated, you will find yourself asking some questions like: (not an exhaustive list)
- How much is the accommodation bond required for the facility I am considering?
- Which assets are and which are not included for Aged Care purposes?
- Should I consider disposal of assets to pay bonds?
- Should I consider the retaining of assets to generate income to pay daily accommodation charges?
- What about the gifting of assets without falling foul of Centrelink?
- Do they really want to charge us that much?
Trying to find an answer to these and other questions can leave you tearing your hair out, if you have any (I don’t). Of course, these are just the financial questions. Your aged parents will also have some questions of their own.
- What if I don’t want to sell the family home in case I get better?
- How can they take my house off me?
- What am I going to do, I had the house earmarked for the grandkids?
- What about all of this money we accumulated, we were hoping to pass it on?
- How can they expect us to pay so much, we’ve paid taxes all our lives?
- What happens when I get better, can I get my money back?
- What if I don’t like this place, can I move? Or go back home?
The purpose of this article is not to advise you in any other way than to advise you toget some help, you’re probably going to need it.
We have put together a Free Guide to Aged Care which might help you to identify some of the issues you will be facing. You can access this material by clicking here and supplying your details. Both an online and .pdf version of the material will be supplied for your convenience.
This information is provided completely free of charge, in an effort to help people who are faced with this worst of situations. We cannot advise on your particular circumstances of course, in order to obtain appropriate personal advice we would need to meet with you.If you like this article why not share it? I appreciate your support. Be sure to visit our blog again for this and other articles. If you have any thoughts, comments are always welcome! Why not connect with me on Social Media so we can continue the conversation