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Navigating Aged Care Services for Couples

What happens when senior spouses require different levels of care

As people age, there often comes a time when they can no longer live in their homes without support. To live safely and comfortably in their own home, the time comes when they’ll require residential care or other aged care services. This can be a difficult time for aged people and their families. But the most challenging time can be when older couples need different types of care. The idea of a loved one transitioning into residential aged care without their spouse can be complex and emotionally challenging.

Although you might feel helpless in these circumstances, there are some options that could work for you. Firstly, all Australian residents need to have an assessment with the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to determine their eligibility to enter into residential aged care. They also require the assessment to determine other types of government funded care and support, such as respite care or in home care.

To access these services you’ll need to initially contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. They’re the entry point to government funded aged care services in Australia. When you contact them you can refer yourself, and request to have an ACAT assessment. A team member will contact you to arrange a meeting time that’s typically conducted at your home.

What services can I access?

Once the assessor from the ACAT determines the services that you’re eligible for, a letter of approval will arrive in the mail. This letter will include one or several services that you’re able to access. These services could include the following:

Can we still live together?

Many older couples will experience different health crises or experience the effects of ageing at different rates. In many situations, one partner will need professional healthcare or aged care services much sooner than the other one.

There are several villages available that do provide a variety of services. In some villages you can access retirement living, assisted living, and residential aged care. You can also access a home care package if you live in a retirement village.

old people's hands

So the time might come when your needs are far less than your partner’s needs. While you might struggle to cook a meal, or clean the bathroom, your partner might need help with medications, mobility and hygiene. In this case, you could both be accessing different level home care packages.

If one of you can’t manage at home with home support anymore, the time might come when one of you need to live in an aged care facility. If you can enter into a village that offers both retirement living and residential aged care, then you’ll still live close to one another.

Other times, both people live in residential aged care with different care needs. If one of you suffer from dementia and the other one doesn’t, some facilities may try to place the person with dementia into a locked dementia ward. If you don’t want this to occur, it’s really important to find this information out before you enter into an agreement with the facility.

Also keep in mind that there are residential care facilities that have shared rooms for spouses/ partners. Shared rooms aren’t as readily available, and extra costs can be incurred if one person does move to a higher dependency section of the aged care facility. The best thing to do is as much research as possible before you move in.

Furthermore, in the most difficult of circumstances when your partner has to move into an aged care home without you, try really hard to arrange a residential facility that’s nearby so that you can visit frequently. If nothing is available nearby at first, they can put their name down on the waiting list with close by facilities, and transfer into them when they become available.

Where can I go for help and support?

My Aged Care offers a service where you can find-a-provider. You can search for a provider in your location, and search for different services that you need too.

Finally, there are many aged care consultants that charge a fee. They can help you to find a facility or service that meets both of your needs. You can search for them online or in the phone book. If you have any further questions, the friendly team at Aged Care Prepare can guide you and provide supportive information.

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