Ask the Experts – Aged Care

Ask the Experts - Aged Care with Nathan Fradley

Our first Ask the Experts article for 2022 looks at the important subject of Aged Care. With Christmas being a time spent with family, it may have also raised some questions around the health and care of your parent/s. Tribeca’s Nathan Fradley is an Accredited Aged Care Practitioner in this field, so we asked his insights around options available and the key points to consider.

So we spent time with mum and dad over Christmas and started to notice a few things slipping. What are the signs that homecare or a change in lifestyle is something you should start talking about?

The most common one is their mobility seems to have dropped away since the last time you saw them; things like their capacity to lift things out of the oven, or make beds or those kinds of simple tasks. That’s the first telltale sign. On the surface they may be coping fine with managing the house, but it could be that’s because one of the kids is coming over to mow the lawns, do the heavy housework or get the shopping. It’s easy for it to creep up on us as we all want to help our parents, but it’s important that we also do the best thing by them and looking into homecare could be a great first step.

Homecare is federally funded, so it’s effectively free money from the government to help out around the house for anyone over 65 who is starting to lose their physical capacity. And that’s the way to position it with our parents, who may feel like they are imposing or are a bit stubborn to accept help. Of course, they also want to maintain and protect their independence. The best way to address this is to go onto the My Aged Care website and register your parent/s to have an assessor come out. It’s obligation free, but is a great and sensitive way to discuss the options, which could simply be help with the garden or transport to appointments or social catchups. When they have this catchup with the assessor it can be a good idea to have a family member there for support and to be clear on what’s possible.

Click here to visit the My Aged Care website.

What if you’ve noticed issues around their mental abilities?

The loss of cognitive function can be a lot harder to identify. And is far more sensitive to talk about. We can all have memory lapses at times – I forget names all the time. But when it’s a regular thing that can be a strong indicator. You might notice some blank moments, they may forget where they were. Or maybe you’re speaking to your mum about her day, and she tells you something that either couldn’t be true or she just can’t recall. It can be hard to pick up on these subtle changes but they can become severe quite quickly. There’s also the difficult situation where both parents are alive, but one parent is slipping and the other is taking over the care and running the house.

“you really want to have this conversation with your parents when they are in a good space before they need to move to care.”

Again, being open and tackling these decisions with respect and kindness is the best course of action. The best place to start is a consultation with their GP to review their cognitive capacity. In many cases homecare is a great option and can take immense pressure off one or both parents – and the kids. If moving to Aged Care accommodation is more appropriate – and there’s many government or self-funded options – you really want to have this conversation with your parents when they are in a good space before they need to move to care.

Mable is a great online resource for connecting with care and support workers in the community.

What about the conversations you should be having with your siblings?

The big one is Power of Attorney (POA); a tough but important conversation to have. It’s critical that parents get POA and ideally from a lawyer that considers how they would have acted and what could potentially be against their interests. It protects their wishes as the lawyer will manage their affairs, and protects family members from being placed in potentially difficult and compromising situations. If a parent loses cognitive capacity and there is no POA in place, applying for and adhering to court ordered administration is a long, time consuming and stressful task.

Clutter is the other conversation to tackle. Whether it’s now or down the track, if your parent/s need to move house you could be looking at 60 years worth of stuff you need to sort through and remove. Speaking to your siblings and family members about how to broach this with mum or dad is a conversation that’s important to have. The earlier you can start the process (together with your parent/s) the better, because if they do need to go into care, it will be your responsibility to take care of there home contents.

We have trusted Power of Attorney and Will experts that we can connect you with. Click here for more information.

Packing boxes

How can Tribeca help?

The best place to start is with our 15-minute phone call, where we can discuss your parent/s situation and look at the many variables. Things like how to register for My Aged Care, what do you need to start thinking about, how can you bring it up with mum and dad and your family? We’re here to help.

From there, we can sit down with everyone in a discovery appointment and create a plan that provides the best financial position for your parent/s which minimises care costs and maximises social security payments, tax and the legacy of any assets. A misperception is that if you don’t have any money, you can’t get into care. This isn’t true. The way the system works, everyone can get into care. Knowing the best way to do it is the key.

Our real value is handholding through the process from identifying when someone needs care to helping with all the steps along the way, even through to representing their interests with the Aged Care facility. With our specialist knowledge and expertise, we can identify the best option which may not be to jump at selling the house first. In fact from the time someone moves into Aged Care accommodation, for the next two years their existing house is only valued at around $150,000 regardless of its actual value. As Centrelink will not assess this asset because of its low value, the Aged Care costs can be next to nothing for these two years. So selling the house too early may actually have a detrimental impact on their financial situation.

It’s these and many other scenarios that we can discuss with the parent/s and family in a positive, sensitive and constructive way.

And ensure that our parents can live as Good Life as possible in their later years.

If you would like to arrange a time to speak to Nathan about your Aged Care needs, please get in contact here.

Would you like to read more from our experts? You can by clicking on the following links for our Ask the Expert articles on valuing financial advice, creating cashflow, financial wellbeing, cashflow coaching, career transition, superannuation, lending and the recession.

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