Entering into aged care is a big decision, and it’s only natural to be a bit hesitant before taking the plunge.
If you’re someone who’s considering going into aged care, take a moment to think long and hard about how to proceed.
Here are 5 things you need to know before going into aged care.
1. Do I need to do this?
Before we get started, it’s important to take some time to ponder and make sure you’re not just rushing into the decision. Even if it feels like it’s getting difficult for you to manage at home, going into residential aged care isn’t always the best solution.
What you need to know is that there are a bunch of other options available that can help support you and let you continue living in the comfort of your home.
Just because you can’t seem to manage to go shopping for groceries anymore or you’re failing to keep your garden in control doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to shift into an aged care home.
Whether it’s grocery shopping, cooking, or gardening — there are numerous services available to give you what you need to stay living comfortably at home. Learn more: In-home aged care.
2. You can always get respite care
If you’re thinking about getting into residential care to take some burden off of your usual at-home carer, stop and think for a moment before making a decision.
If your regular carer requires a break, there are plenty of other options available — you don’t have to sacrifice living at your home so your carer can go on a much-needed vacation or take time to attend to personal matters.
Respite carers can help look after you at home while your carer is on a break. You can even spend some time at a respite center.
Additionally, you can also arrange a short-term visit to an aged care home. whether it’s to give your carer some time off for a break or to recover from an illness. This is also a great way to get a feel for residential care before making the decision. Learn more: 5 benefits of respite care to keep in mind.
3. Prepare yourself to fill out a lot of forms
Like most things involving the government, there’s going to be a bunch of paperwork you’ll need to sort out if you wish to move into residential care.
First things first, you’ll need to get an aged care assessment done where you’ll be asked about your health requirements. This can take about 8-12 weeks to finalize, so it’s usually best to initiate this process as soon as you begin considering your aged care options. Here is what you can expect from an aged care assessment.
The next biggest hurdle you’ll need to overcome is completing an income and asset assessment form, which will calculate how much government assistance you’re entitled to (if any).
This might be a huge challenge to fill, but don’t worry — you can find everything you need here.
4. Finding the right aged care home
Location and budget will often play the biggest role in deciding the aged care home you’ll enter.
But it’s important to realize that there’s sometimes room to negotiate the cost. Also, ensure you put a lot of thought into what’s actually important for you in your new home.
Do you have any specific needs — religious, language, cultural — that need to be fulfilled? What services would you prefer — social events, physical exercise opportunities, outings, creative activities? What kind of space would you expect (bedroom, personal bathrooms, etc)?
Jot down a list of all your needs and wants — this is particularly useful if you’re unable to inspect care homes personally and you have a friend or family member visiting the places for you.
5. Applying for aged care homes
Once you start applying to residential aged care homes, you’ll probably find that many facilities already have long waiting lists.
When vacancies do come up, they’ll be allocated depending on a variety of factors, such as time spent on the list, health care requirements, and urgency.
You can start putting down your name at any number of aged care homes but understand that you’ll need to respond to vacancies immediately when they’re offered. That’s why you should only apply to a place if you’re ready, and you think you’d be happy living there.
However, there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind — you’re always free not to accept a vacancy when it’s offered, and there’s usually no penalty if you end up saying no.
In fact, in a lot of cases, the need to enter into aged care homes can be sudden due to a severe illness like a stroke, fall, or heart attack. And this need often ends after some time, which is why you might have to refuse an offer. This is why it’s also important to start applying well before the need for residential care is imminent.
Photo 162770105 / Age Care © Oleksandra Lysenko | Dreamstime.com