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Caring for elderly parents

Do you help care for an elderly parent or special someone? This post outlines some of the issues you may need to consider.

As we live longer, more and more Australians are becoming part of the sandwich generation, finding themselves caring for an elderly parent whilst also looking after their own children. This can put enormous pressure on the person who is caught in the middle, with competing demands on their time and resources.

Below are some hints and tips to help you manage if you are a carer in this situation.

Organise their important documents

A good place to start is to help your loved one assemble a folder with their important documents. This should include items such as his or her:

  • Will
  • power of attorney documents
  • bank details
  • documents from any investment or insurance policies
  • details of any prearranged funeral arrangements.

Having everything in one place will make it far easier to deal with organisations in the future.

Arrange to meet with their financial adviser

If your parent works with a financial adviser, accompanying them to a meeting with this person is a good idea. This is especially the case if your parent has had a long term relationship with this adviser, as they should have a history of any past investments, transactions and changes. The adviser should also have some knowledge of any government entitlements that they are receiving. Finally, this adviser should be able to assist you in planning for any future changes, such as if your parent needs to downsize their home or move into an aged care facility.

If you would like to arrange a meeting with a financial planner, visit our Find a Planner tool to find one near you. 

Dealing with Centrelink on their behalf

If your parent or loved one receives a government entitlement such as the Age Pension, it is important that you are aware so you can assist them in managing their entitlements.

Centrelink doesn’t automatically know how much a person has in a bank account or investments. You need to tell them. This means when things change, such as funds being spent or received, investments being altered, or a change to living arrangements – you need to notify Centrelink.

Centrelink require you to tell them within 14 days if your circumstances change.

Handy hint

To make life easier when dealing with Centrelink, you can complete a form to allow you to enquire or act on your parent’s behalf with Centrelink about their payments and services. There is an option on the form to receive an electronic copy of any correspondence that is sent to your parent, saving you the trips to the letter box!

For a guide to applying for the Age Pension, including forms, supporting paperwork and some helpful pointers, please see How to apply for the Age Pension

Getting help at home or moving into aged care

If the daily duties at home are becoming increasingly difficult and help is required, or you are considering moving your parent into an aged care home, you should arrange a free assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT, or ACAS in Victoria).

To be eligible to enter an aged care facility, it is first necessary for a person to undergo an assessment of their physical and mental ability by ACAT.

This assessment will generally occur once a referral has been received from a general practitioner. Based upon the results of the assessment, ACAT will determine whether a person requires home care or residential aged care.

For more information, please refer to the Government My Aged Care website.

Final word

Caring for an ageing loved one can be challenging. It is important to remember that help is at hand and that there are places to turn. Being organised and following some of the above tips will give you a good start. If you have siblings, try to share some of the responsibilities so that the burden is not left to just you.

Do you or someone you know care for a special someone? Please share this information with them.

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