The conversation advisers need to have

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Advisers need to start talking to their clients about aged care, and encouraging discussions with families – sooner rather than later.

Making decisions about aged care can help clients to avoid potential conflict, distress and financial problems, according to Derek McMillan, CEO of Retirement Living at Australian Unity.

The supply of aged care services is limited and families need to consider their options in advance, says McMillan. Advisers should help clients have these discussions with their children and other involved relatives, about their preferences and what plans need to be made as they get older.

“These discussions should take into account what parents want to do with the family home when they are no longer able to live in it alone; what kind of facility they would like to live in; what they want to do if they can no longer drive; and even what kind of medical care they would like.”

Making decisions in a calm and rational manner will ensure the client’s needs are met.

“Most of us find such issues difficult to talk about at the best of times,” says McMillan. “However, having this conversation under pressure when an immediate decision needs to be made is much more difficult, more emotional, and often a source of unhappiness.

“Having an open and frank discussion about expectations well in advance will allow better planning and help avoid the conflict that unpleasant surprises usually bring.”

He says families should apply the “40-70” rule, which recommends that when the children reach age 40 or the parents reach age 70, it’s time to have the conversation, even if the parents are still perfectly healthy and independent.

He adds that a necessary component of the conversation is the finances.

“The significant gap between the amount of funding provided by the Government to aged care and healthcare services, and the ever-increasing demand for such services resulting in potential difficulty in getting aged care accommodation, needs to be understood and planned for.

“Consequently, families will need to talk about how they will fund the care needed by ageing family members as well as how and where that care should be provided” McMillan says.