Not nearly enough according to a National Seniors Australia survey of 5,000 of their members, which revealed that while four out of five older Australians will need aged care, only three per cent of us have planned for it.
The survey showed that just three per cent of older Aussies plan to spend more in later life with the majority (61 per cent) aiming to spend the same amount throughout retirement.
Another third (36 per cent) said they planned to spend more in the early years after giving up paid work before scaling back their spending.
These figures seem to indicate that many people picture spending their money on travel and leisure, not aged care and medical costs as they age. However, as we live longer lives and with the majority of us requiring some form of aged services, our living costs will tend to increase as we get older rather than decrease.
While Commonwealth funding contributes around $14.2 billion in aged care sector funding in the form of residential aged care and home care packages, there is a significant funding shortfall meaning that means around 150,000 Australians approved for a certain level of care are currently on a waiting list to receive this care.
Without a plan in place, many of these older Australians are not receiving the care they need and without family support may be struggling to get the care and quality of life they deserve.
While planning where you would like to spend your final years and what this will cost is not as exciting as planning a round the world cruise, you may be much better off if you spend time doing so.
Many people wait for a medical crisis to make a decision about aged care, however, research shows that those who plan for aged care and weigh up their options before their health deteriorates significantly have better quality of life and outcomes – and importantly more choice.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure you can avoid a care crisis and are prepared for aged care.
The Federal Government’s My Aged Care website contains a range of information on getting assessed for aged services in your area. Australians over the age of 65 can apply for an assessment through My Aged Care to check if they’re eligible for an aged care package. You can also use the fee estimator tools to get an idea of costs.
Getting in the system early is a good idea as waiting until your care needs hit a crisis point can mean you may not get the care you need straight away.
The best way to know what aged care options are available is to visit the aged care facilities and communities in your area. Or if you plan to age in your own home, do some research on home care providers near you.
While residential aged care facilities are what many people think of when they think aged care, there are now aged care community options, like Seasons, that use a home care model within a retirement community setting that may offer you the balance of independence and care that you’re looking for.
Having a short list of providers that you like can help you make a decision when the time comes. It also gives you an idea of aged care costs and helps you plan financially. Talking over the options available to you with a financial planner can help you consider the effect these options will have on your assets and how to maximise your cash flow for your later years.
Talking about your wishes for aged care shouldn’t be a taboo topic. Starting the aged care conversation with family members before care is required means that everyone is on the same page and understands what’s important when the time comes to get extra care.
Starting the conversation is also a chance to get your wishes in writing by putting together an advanced care plan and nominating enduring power of attorneys to act on your behalf. This means if you are suddenly unable to act for yourself due to an accident or illness that your wishes are known and can be respected by your loved ones and medical team.
Many people say that ‘they’re not ready for aged care’ up until it’s too late and a medical crisis takes many of their choices away from them. Don’t wait until you’re ready to start the ball rolling on aged care – think of it instead of empowering yourself with the options available to be in the best position possible for your care years.