Our parents have long looked after us - but as they get older, it can be up to us to take care of them. Here's a few tips that could help you in caring for ageing loved ones.
1. Talk to your parents about what they want
If you're blessed with the gift of time to make these decisions before they happen, talking to your parents about what they want in their later years of life can help ensure everyone is on the same page.
Some things to consider when caring for elderly parents might include:
· Where do they want to be?
Do your parents want to live out their years at home or would they prefer to be in a care home? Understanding what this looks like to them, and whether their preferences change if they develop certain conditions or just get older, can help you make the right decision for them, if needed.
· What do they want to happen in the event of an emergency?
It might not be a nice topic to talk about but knowing whether your loved one wants to be resuscitated or donate their organs is essential in the event of an emergency.
· Do they have a Power of Attorney?
As your loved one gets older, knowing there is someone who can make the tough decisions with their best interest in mind is reassuring. Think about who this might be and make any necessary legal nominations.
2. Understand the costs
There's nothing more stressful than needing funds you don't have - especially when it comes to looking after your parents.
To avoid being left out of pocket, you may need to think about:
· What are their finances like?
They worked long and hard for their money, but when it comes to savings, does your loved one have enough to (or are they on track to) afford the type of care they want or need? If you’re unsure, you might want to ask them to track their spending for a period to get a better understanding of their financial situation. You can do this by using ANZ’s Expense Tracker.
· Are they (and you) aware of all potential costs?
Budgeting can be tricky, but knowing exactly how much your ageing parent will need on a daily/weekly/monthly basis is important. Our free budget builder tool can help you and your loved one plan for the future. You should also consider what happens to their money in the event of an emergency – just to be safe.
· Who will look after their money, if they can’t?
Finally, knowing who will look after your parents’ finances if they can’t any longer may help you to avoid unnecessary stress down the track. Think about who will manage their money and cover the cost of bigger expenses, like their home, aged care, health insurance or bills.
3. Find the right place to call home
With six main types of care available for our older and wiser generations, the right fit for your loved one might be in the form of one of the below.
· Home and Community care
If your loved one doesn’t want to leave their home, this type of care provides help in-home based on need, while allowing them to stay in the comfort of their surrounds. The Australian Government’s Home Support Programmedisclaimer is a good starting place if you’re considering this option.
· Transition care
If your parent or loved one needs a bit of extra assistance after a hospital stay, transitional caredisclaimer can help get them get back on their feet at home. It can connect them with social work, nursing, personal care and allied health resources and helps build up their independence and confidence again.
· Respite care
Taking care of a loved one can be a tough, round-the-clock job. Respite caredisclaimer allows both caregivers and loved ones to take a break, reset and relax – think of it like a short getaway. This type of care is designed as a temporary arrangement for limited time.
· Low-level care in an aged care facility
Aged care facilities have many low-level residents who receive daily help that might consist of dressing, bathing, eating and cleaning. But your loved one can still maintain their independence if not all of these services are needed. Check out the federal government’s My Aged Care websitedisclaimer for more information.
· Retirement villages and independent living units
Retirement villages or independent living unitsdisclaimer are not aged care facilities. They offer a range of services for older people who need less care than offered by aged care homes. They are not regulated or subsidised by the Australian Government, but they are regulated by state and territory governments. You, or your loved one will have to pay the full cost to access these services, whatever the care needs or financial situation.
· High-level care in an aged care facility
When your parent or loved one can no longer live at home or needs ongoing care, it might be time to consider high-level care. This means they would receive round-the-clock care for everything from assisting with mobility, toileting and basic medical needs.
· Palliative care
Caring for someone with a terminal illness can be sad and emotional. But palliative caredisclaimer offers them a dignified end of life experience with access to extra support and respect for their wishes.
There’s a lot to think about when your parent or loved one is getting older, but having a plan and knowing their wishes are being looked after can give you more time to enjoy together.