New Year’s resolutions are everywhere at the moment, as we love to take the chance offered by the start of a new year to improve ourselves in some way. Lose weight? Exercise more? Eat more healthily? Learn something new? Get your finances in order? Quit smoking? Be more organised? Check!
Chances are one or more of these resolutions is familiar to you – they’re pretty commonly found ones. But how about this one – make a plan for your aged care?
While you might be thinking that this sounds crazy/boring/unnecessary/irrelevant, it’s actually a resolution that a whole lot more of us need to be thinking about. While aged care may not be everyone’s favourite topic, ageing is something that’s going to happen to all of us. You’re not just planning for aged care, you’re actually planning out your life, and how you want to spend it when you get older. We put plans in place for our jobs, our careers, our relationships, our children, our holidays, our significant events … so why do we fail to think about how we’ll spend our older years – a significant portion of our lives?
The answer, of course, probably lies in the fact that no-one really wants to think about getting old. However, when something is inevitable, you’re far better off taking control and planning how you want to live, rather than just letting it happen to you. Not only will this allow you to live the life you want when you get older, you’ll also have peace of mind now that your future is taken care of.
Planning your aged care helps you mentally prepare for the future
Putting a plan in place early means you’re prepared for it when the time comes, rather than undergoing a shock at a sudden and unexpected change. If a sudden health crisis makes a move into aged care necessary, people can be quite resistant to choices they didn’t make. While no-one wants to suffer ill health, planning for any and all aspects of the future make it far easier to deal with. Knowing that a certain step is going to happen if you become ill, or a different step will happen if you can no longer manage living at home, or a completely different step if you’re hale and hearty, can help you mentally prepare for whatever comes. Whatever happens, it’s your choice as to how you will deal with it – as long as you put plans in place early. Otherwise, you’re at the mercy of circumstances and people who may not make the choices you would have preferred. Having a plan makes you feel in control and more at peace about what the future holds.
Aged care is a long-term project
As well, planning for aged care is not something that should be done in a rush. Aged care planning involves decisions about where you will live, your finances, your lifestyle and your home – none of which can or should be made in a hurry. Planning early means you can get that spot in the aged care facility or retirement village that you prefer, rather than having to wait months for a place at a facility you may not have chosen. It means you can have finances in place, rather than scrambling to make ends meet for an unplanned move to an aged care facility. It means you can decide what to do with your home, rather than making a decision on the fly. It means you can choose the lifestyle you want to live, rather than being forced into a lifestyle you didn’t choose. It means you can do your research and make the best choice for you, rather than flying blind.
There’s no real downside to planning your aged care early – and no-one is too young to start thinking about it. If your long-term plan is to retire to a coastal village, then the longer you can save for it and manage your super when you’re younger, the better off you’ll be. Aged care can be complex, and you need time to plan the best choices, as well as ensuring your family know about your decisions and needs.
Planning for your parents
Even if aged care seems like a long way off for you, you may have ageing parents who might need to consider their future. Open a conversation with your parents this year about their wants, needs and preferences regarding their future care. Maybe they have everything in place already, and it’s good to find out how they envision their future. Maybe they haven’t thought about it and need a nudge to start putting the wheels in motion. Either way, having the “aged care conversation” can improve the chances of a positive outcome for your parents as they age.
Click here for an in-depth look about how to have the conversation about aged care.
Above all, think positively
Aged care planning doesn’t have to be negative – there are plenty of benefits to getting older (click here to read about some of them. Flip your thinking and challenge yourself to find the positives in your aged care choices. For example, moving into an aged care facility can mean that your social life picks up, and you have fewer boring household maintenance chores to do. Choosing a retirement village can be a very positive step, as it means taking charge of your own life and spending it just as you wish. You could choose an aged care facility in a part of the world you’ve always wanted to visit, or swap your city lifestyle for a beachside one. Look for the positives in planning for your older age, and you’re far more likely to get stuck into the planning.
Don’t let another year pass without addressing your future
So, it’s a great idea to take some time this year and make a plan for your aged care. When the end of this year rolls around, you can look back in satisfaction that your plan for the future has been considered and set in motion – giving you choice, certainty and peace of mind. Who wouldn’t want that?
Click here to read more about why you should start aged care planning early.