For an ageing Australian population, planning for future care is something that increasingly can’t be avoided. And there are many benefits to be gained from advanced care planning. Not only will you be more in control of the decisions being made, you’ll also be able to spare your family the burden of having to make these decisions in stressful circumstances.
Considerations when planning for future care
- Your later years often pose health challenges, thus requiring difficult healthcare decisions to be made
- Your financial planning will need to accommodate for any potential future healthcare issues, as well as for your living arrangements and everyday needs
- There are also legal decisions that you’ll need to make to ensure your wishes are carried out as you would like
It’s vitally important to start planning for your future care early – and to seek sound advice when doing so. You will thus put yourself in the best situation for comfortable and stress-free twilight years. And it’s never too early to start the planning process.
Click here to read more about why you should start aged care planning early.
Your future might come with financial obstacles that need to be prepared for as adequately as possible. You’ll need to consider where you want to live if or when you are no longer able to live on your own, how much this will cost, and how to budget for these ongoing costs.
Who to seek advice from:
It’s wise to seek sound financial advice from an accountant or financial planner when considering your future plans. They will be able to help you maximise your income and financially prepare for the road ahead. They can also help take the emotion out of the equation, and help you make sound financial decisions that will benefit your future.
As well, it’s wise to seek this advice as early as possible, rather than as you are approaching retirement. Seeking advice 10 years or more before you plan to retire is adequate; it’s getting too late if you leave it till 5 years before your planned retirement. Keep in mind that you will have a lot fewer options at 5 years that you would have had at 10 years.
Health care planning
While planning for your future healthcare needs can be somewhat difficult, there are steps you can take to prepare as best you can for what the future might hold. Some of the most essential factors contributing to poor health as you get older are well within your grasp to control, and it makes sense to do so.
As well, people are becoming more aware of their right to make their own decisions regarding medical treatment and health care – and want to do so, rather than have other people make the decisions for them. Advance care planning can allow you to live life on your own terms by taking control and planning ahead.
Who to seek advice from:
Your first port of call should be your doctor or GP. Plan a discussion with your doctor to review the results of blood tests, and measurements of height, weight and blood pressure, as well as your family history. While this won’t prevent unexpected healthcare surprises from occurring, it should give you a guide as to what you can realistically expect and plan for health-wise. You can then put measures in place to minimise or eliminate potential problems that you could be approaching. For instance, if you’re at a high risk of having a heart attack sometime in the future, put strategies in place to reduce the chance of this happening – and schedule regular check-ups to make sure your strategies are working.
Also speak to your accountant or financial advisor about taking out or increasing the level of your private health cover. In later life, you may need to cover hospital expenses and extra medical costs, such as seeing an optometrist, dentist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist or at-home nurse. Consider creating an emergency health fund, into which you can channel some of your passive income streams (such as investments, super or share portfolios) to help tide you over if you have an emergency health crisis. Make sure it’s an account that you won’t (or can’t) dip into for impulse buys.
You can also seek more general health care advice from Advance Care Planning Australia.
Your advance care planning might involve appointing a substitute decision maker – in other words, granting power of attorney to a friend or relative. You will no doubt also want to make a will (if you haven’t already done so), and consider any other legal ends that you may need to tie up. You might also want to make a living will (outlining the medical care you would like to receive in the event of becoming incapacitated to make decisions).
Who to seek advice from:
Power of attorney forms are complex legal documents, and while you can complete them yourself, it’s a much better idea to get legal advice to ensure your document accurately reflects your wishes. This is particularly wise if large sums of money are involved, or your circumstances are complex.
Similarly, a will can be a complex document. While there is no requirement for a lawyer to be involved in the administration and distribution of your estate, you may want to consult one for advice or to write your will for you, particularly if your situation is complicated. You can also consult a public trustee for help with your will, setting up power of attorney and executor services.