There is a lot of myth and conjecture that doesn’t help us get aged care on our terms. We’re human. We have a funny relationship with aged care, end-of-life, illness, disease and disability in Australia. A lot of people make do until it becomes too difficult to ignore the problem anymore.
Ironically, that means independent, proud and autonomous people often reduce their opportunity to remain at home longer. By not addressing changes as they arise, you increase the risk of accident and injury. Or reduce your quality of life by missing meals, showers and socialisation. All by hiding the stresses and fearing the concept of help.
That really needs to change.
To get aged care that reflects you, it’s a process of preparedness and prevention prior to needing it. Looking after your health and not ignoring the signs of ageing, disease, disability and illness is crucial.
If you want to get aged care that makes you feel like you are still in control of your life and your choices, you need to work with the systems early and even often.
As daunting as that might sound, it’s actually interesting and full of a lot of potential. You can avoid unnecessary pain, frustration and difficulties by understanding what is available to you.
Here’s how you get aged care on your terms instead of letting ageing dictate the terms to you
Start before you need it
At ExSitu, we believe the time for planning aged care is well before you actually get aged care services. If you can think of aged care as a support to living the life you want, it gives you greater opportunity to set goals and work on areas that could be future problems with a bit of forward planning.
For example, if you are a really independent introvert who enjoys their own company, you may want to make exercise and accessibility in the home a top priority. That way, you can remain as physically capable as you can in order to stay home on your terms. Working on balance to avoid falls, fitness to keep up with house upkeep and removing trip hazards well before you need this kind of support is part of prevention and preparedness for an ageing experience on your terms.
Questions to help you with that might include:
- What does a positive care environment look like for me?
- Do I have to consider any illness, disability or disease as part of my planning?
- What ways can I help myself stay healthier, stronger and more mobile longer?
- What habits would I like to change to have greater control over my health and wellbeing now and in the future?
- Do I need to make changes to the house such as adding rails or decluttering furniture?
- Would it be helpful to make renovations to improve access to my property?
- What sorts of physical challenges am I starting to face and what can I do to minimise their impact?
Don’t wait until your health, mental health or physical surroundings makes choices for you.
Build yourself a care plan, articulate what matters to you, and do what you can to ensure the choices you make today set you up with the best possible ageing experience of tomorrow.
Consider where and how you want that care
Aged care is not a one-size fits all situation. You can receive aged care support at home, in a facility and in varying degrees of assisted living care centres. You can also get aged care services to support you temporarily or permanently.
That means you might need to consider a few things to determine how much care you need while looking at what kind of aged care experience suits you best.
A high-level view is to think about:
Your current and future living circumstances
Do you want to continue living where you are and get aged care support to help you remain independent, supported and healthy?
Would you like to downsize and move to a smaller property and/or into assisted living with some integrated supports?
Is it time to enter a full-time aged care facility?
What your physical needs are
Do you have a disability, disease or illness that might require more support as time progresses?
Are you temporarily in need of care services but anticipate after a few weeks or months that this will no longer be required?
Are certain tasks such as showering, house cleaning or cooking proving more difficult in an otherwise reasonably easy to manage living situation?
How your social needs are met
Do you want access to activities and groups that suit your personality that allow for your budget and access needs?
Is transport a barrier to you engaging socially and on your own terms with the world around you?
Are your social needs met culturally? Do you have people to talk to in your language and/or who understand your cultural identity? Or who observe the same religious practices, customs and beliefs you do?
The shape of your network
How many friends do you have that are available to support you?
Do you have family members that are available to help you?
How connected are you to your community?
How comfortable are you with drawing on a network of outside support?
What’s available to you, service wise
Do you anticipate a need now or in the near future for support to transition back home after time in hospital or a care environment?
Do you have the right kind of services to help you with disability, disease or illness that you are experiencing temporarily or on a more permanent basis?
Are those services culturally appropriate?
Do you need access to respite or relief care on occasion?
Are there waiting lists for the services you need? And if so, are there other alternatives?
That’s why the government has setup My Aged Care. You can check for the sorts of services you have in your local area and start to formulate a plan that suits you.
You can also articulate what you need and what matters more by making use of the ExSitu Hierarchy of Values.
What are my practical care considerations?
Before you get aged care, you’ll need to have a look at practical aspects like how you are going to pay for it and what it will cost.
This may include considerations like:
- What is your current situation? E.g., are you semi-retired, retired, on a pension, a self-funded retiree and so on? This will influence what support you can and can’t receive
- What kinds of assistance do you qualify for?
- How much do you want to pay for the level of support you require?
- Do you have property or other assets?
- Can you use these other assets to offset the initial or ongoing costs when you get aged care?
- How much debt are you in? How much debt do you plan to leave behind?
- Would you prefer to pay for aged care services via a payment plan or sell your house and/or other assets?
- Can I save towards my future aged care costs now?
Think long and hard about your budget and how far it can get you with aged care. And use the flexibility available when choosing the kind of care experience you want to your advantage.
Engage and ask questions
When you get aged care, you are defining your next phase of life. So, what you want that to look like is of the utmost importance.
Do what you can to understand the options available.
Take a look on how to access aged care services in Australia. And feel free to reach out if you need help building the right aged care plan for you.