How to Prepare for a Health Scare in Retirement
The long awaited retirement dream’s arrived and your about to launch into your big adventures with financial security. As people retire later in life, ageing often brings with it some health issues.
You could be on that long road trip down the east coast of Australia with your partner, towing your caravan behind. And suddenly you experience a sudden health scare. It’s hugely overwhelming, and unless you’ve thought it through, you could end up in strife.
Managing your Finances During a Health Scare
Planning for the unexpected seems pointless when you’re feeling healthy and excited for the possibilities that lay ahead. But you do need to protect yourself in case the unexpected happens.
From health insurance to superannuation, it’s really important to arrange someone else to manage your finances if you’re unable to do so due to poor health. If you don’t have a spouse, or even if you do, it might be easier to have an accountant or financial advisor who can step in.
Alternatively, there could be another family member who’s willing to help during a crisis. Let’s face it. If there’s a health scare, the last thing your partner wants to worry about is money at that difficult time. Ensuring that these measures are in place before something happens is a good idea.
If you can afford to have private health insurance during retirement, this could save you in the long run. It also means that if you develop a health condition that requires treatment, you won’t necessarily have to wait, and your health insurance will cover some of the costs involved. And if you’re hospitalised during that time, your health insurance will enable you to have treatment privately, without the waiting periods.
Health cover is Australia wide, so if you’re travelling, you’ll be able to use your cover anywhere in Australia. Remember to check your policy and make sure that you’ll have the right cover for the unexpected too.
Keeping fit and healthy to reduce the risks of a health scare
If you’re retired it’s probably difficult to not overindulge. And why not? It’s suffice to say that this might be the first time in your life that you’ve had all this free time, with the financial security to do as you please. But remember that exercising, eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight will significantly reduce the risks of developing chronic health conditions, hopefully allowing you to enjoy the good times ahead.
Adapt your home
On a more serious note, many of us have a home that’s suitable when everything’s going well. You might have stairs, slippery mats, or a lip on the front steps that you catch your shoes on when you enter the house. Thinking about modifying your home now, rather than after a health scare will save you stress later on.
Some things to consider when adapting your home include space. Decluttering will help most people in the future in many ways. For example, you might require a mobility aid such as a wheelie walker as you get older. By having space in the house you’ll move around more safely and freely. Also, clutter is a falls risk, and preventing falls will reduce the risk of developing injuries such as a fractured hip.
The risk of falling increases with age and is most common in and around your home. With this in mind, how can you prevent falls? If you’ve had a health scare you might be at greater risk of falls due to medications that you’re taking, or physical pain. As previously discussed, removing clutter from the home is one step in the right direction.
But other things to consider in regards to falls prevention include taking your time to get somewhere (don’t mobilise too quickly). Also, using your mobility aids to get around and wearing well-fitting shoes. Furthermore, be sure to watch your step on uneven ground, and secure loose mats that are on the ground.
Consider your support options
Think ahead in regards to where you live and weather you can remain there if a health issue arises. It’s a possibility you’ll need someone to give you a hand with managing activities of daily living such as meal preparation, showering and cleaning. If this is the case for you, having a support group such as friends and family to help in a time of need is a great option.
But many people don’t have support structures around them. In such a case, if you’re admitted to hospital with a health issue and you’ll need help at home, talk with a health professional while you’re in hospital. Nursing staff plan your discharge as part of your care pathway. They’ll refer you to a hospital social worker or discharge planner who can help you to get support arranged from your time of discharge. The social worker might arrange an assessment with the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) for you.
The ACAT assessment will determine the level of care that’ll best meet your needs. You might be eligible for in home care, residential aged care, or flexible care. Many people require short-term restorative care or transitional care to get them back to managing on their own again. Either way, support is there for you if you need it.
Advanced Care Planning
Finally, it’s never too early to do some advanced care planning. Consider arranging an enduring power of attorney (EPOA), and an advanced health directive (AHD). An Enduring Power of Attorney is a formal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf with financial, health care, or welfare decisions if you no longer have the capacity to do so on your own
An Advanced Health Directive is also a formal document that includes instructions regarding your future health care. It’s intended to be followed when you’re no longer able to make healthcare decisions for yourself. Often an EPOA and AHD are completed simultaneously.
In brief, don’t wait for a health scare. Be conscious of what could go wrong and put measures into place that’ll prepare you if the time comes that there’s a health issue that impacts on your life.