It can be an uncomfortable conversation but the sad fact is that eventually, we are all going to get old and start to struggle with life’s daily chores such as shopping, cooking and cleaning. When this happens, it’s vital that we have an aged care plan.

It's not just older people who need to understand how aged care works. Anyone with ageing parents may have to understand a complex system at very short notice.

And remember, it's important that you look after yourself during this emotionally difficult time.

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  1. Government support

    The government provides substantial assistance to cover the costs of aged care, and eligibility for government support is determined by Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT). Aside from making an assessment of the need and level of care required, the ACATs may also be able to help you find appropriate accommodation.

    Most people prefer to make their own choice, so it’s worthwhile visiting a number of facilities to see what’s available. Quite often, places are subject to existing vacancies so it may be necessary to apply to a few establishments.

  2. Fee structure

    In most cases, a contribution towards the costs of aged care is required. Contributions vary and depend upon income, assets and pensioner status. Fees may include a combination of means-tested accommodation and care fees, a basic daily care fee and fees for extra optional services. Fees are revised twice a year in line with pension revisions. Care recipients can either pay their accommodation fee as an upfront refundable deposit or a rent-style periodic payment.

  3. Be prepared

    Sometimes the need for aged care can arise at very short notice. For example, a stroke or a broken hip may be the trigger for an immediate move. This can be a stressful time and it’s not helped by the overwhelming range of facilities on offer and the complexity of funding arrangements.

    So the best advice we can give is be prepared by having an aged care plan.