Aged care – make the right retirement living choice

Many of us save and plan for retirement, with our main focus on ensuring we have enough money to live the type of lifestyle that we want. Although this is an important aspect of planning ahead, another key consideration is planning where we will live during our retirement.

The answer to this question will depend on a number of factors, the major one being your ability to live independently. Knowing what options are available will help you or your loved ones to move into the next phase of retirement. By planning ahead, you can lessen the impact of a situation that can be emotional, stressful and uncertain.

There are three categories of retirement living:

Retirement villages

Retirement village living offers those aged 50 or over a convenient lifestyle and a community. They offer flexible services so, as your needs change, you can adjust the services that you receive. The services and costs vary. Sometimes upfront payments may be required as well as ongoing fees and exit fees.

Accommodation options may include independent living units and serviced apartments. Serviced apartments generally have one or two bedrooms and some daily living assistance. A small kitchenette is often included within the living unit but meals are provided in a dining room setting.

Home and community care

If you prefer to stay in the comfort of your home, but require support, there are a number of services available. You can get assistance with domestic chores such as cleaning and laundry, personal care, meals, home maintenance and modification, nursing care and transport assistance. This help is available through federal government subsidised services or private businesses that offer home care services.

Costs for home support services and home care packages vary according to each provider but if the provider is approved to receive Commonwealth funding then there are limits on the amount they can charge. Before you can access these services, you need to be formally assessed.

Residential aged care

If you can no longer live at home, perhaps due to illness or an emergency, residential aged care may be the next step. Living or staying in an aged care home provides 24-hour nursing care. The operation of aged care homes, including the maximum costs that you may have to pay, are regulated by the Australian Government.

If you are living in a retirement village but are then assessed as needing residential aged care,
you may be able to move to aged care accommodation that is located in the same retirement village — making moving much easier. However, you may need to make a separate accommodation payment.

Don't leave it until it is too late

Don't wait until your health starts to fail, or when your mobility starts to deteriorate as there may be a waiting list. Wherever you choose to live, as you require more support the costs will increase. How you choose to fund your accommodation may affect your Centrelink entitlements so it is important that you understand the choices you are able to make. If you want to know more, then speak to your Bridges financial planner as they can help you understand and plan for the complexities of aged care.