© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
Where, When and How is up to You. An Aged Care Discussion.
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” - Steve Jobs
The current situation Australians are living longer. Better health care, medical care, medical research and lifestyle changes all add years to our ever extending life expectancy. Life expectancy at birth by 2054 / 2055 will be 95.1 years for men and 96.6 years for women. See accompanying YouTube video below:
We Are Living Longer But Are We Living Better?
Where do we end up?
A rapidly ageing population has meant that people have begun to think about where they want to be in the last years of life. In a recent survey undertaken by the author, 100% of people polled, wish to remain at home until the end of life. However, this is not always possible. The choices we make for positive ageing and a good death are affected by a number of factors, some beyond our own control such as: care needs (physical and cognitive); spiritual and cultural needs; financial capacity; and the wants and wishes of the individual.
The State of a Nation in Crisis...
Aged Care costs may be subsidised by the Government. Government cannot afford to pay for every Australian’s aged care into the future. Individuals who have financial capacity, are required to pay for some or all of their care. To add to the growing aged care issue in Australia, there is a severe shortage of committed quality care workers in a systematic antiquated delivery of care model. Demand is outweighing supply and putting strain onto an already struggling Aged Care system ( Aged Care Workforce Taskforce, 2018). The recent expose on 4 corners and the insistence for a Royal Commission into Aged Care, is proof that we have an aged care crisis in our midst.
Making Decisions About Your Life Now...
How you want to live your life is up to you. How you wish to be cared for, by whom and where, is up to you. Where you wish to live your last days on earth and how you want your life to be celebrated is all about you. Start the discussions early, be frank and honest with your loved ones and make sure you document formally and legally your wishes for how you want to live.
Having Difficult Conversations...
How to engage people in a discussion about decisions to be made in relation to aged care services depends on the relationship you have with them. A great starting point is to ask the person what they want and need to remain independent; whether it is assistance with care, shopping, banking; companionship or social support. Don’t tell them that you think they need care or help.
Advanced care discussions and planning ahead of time is imperative to ensure wants and wishes are documented and carried out if and when a life event occurs. It’s important to share the document amongst the family so that everyone is on the same page. The aim is to obtain the best care outcome for the person needing care. The ‘life plan’ can be enacted if, or when, the person loses their own decisional capacity.
All legal documentation should be finalised formally and well before a life event intervenes and the loss of capacity to make decisions. A valid will, a Power of Attorney (for financial decisions), Enduring Guardian (for health, care and accommodation decisions) and an Advanced Health Directive (living will) should all be discussed and documented. Use a reputable estate planner / lawyer to undertake this task no matter how old (or young) you are. If you own assets, are in a relationship or have siblings or children, you need to ensure that ‘your affairs are in order.’
There are many varied and flexible options for those considering and requiring aged care services; staying at home, residential aged care, support through day care programs, respite care, moving in with loved ones and families, communal living such as retirement village; or a combination of many.
New developments and innovations are changing the way we are able to assist our ageing population. Existing tools, comparative platforms and concierge services to help consumers find the most appropriate aged care option for your loved one is becoming the norm, in an ever complex system to navigate.
Should you notice even small changes in your loved ones appearance, behaviour, speech, mobility, or their ability to manage activities of daily living… it is time to have the “conversation” about planning ahead for their wants and wishes.
Please feel free to give Danielle Robertson, DR Care Solutions to discuss your options.
 All statistics are taken from the 2015 Intergenerational Report