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Future care crisis ‘on the cards’ as Australians fail to plan

Failing to plan for future care has been revealed as a common trend among older Australians in a new first of its kind report, prompting concerns of a future care crisis.

New research has revealed that ageing Australians need to be better prepared and need to plan for their future care (Source: Shutterstock)
New research has revealed that ageing Australians need to be better prepared and need to plan for their future care (Source: Shutterstock)

The Future Care Study 2018, conducted by Absolute Care and Health, surveyed more than 1,000 Australians aged 50 and over between 27 March and 3 April 2018, and reported that more than 75 percent of Australians have failed to make any plans to ensure they receive their preferred future care.

As well as revealing the lack of future planning among ageing Australians, the report also revealed a number of other shocking realities - including that many older Australians are not very confident that they, or the Government, will be able to fund their future care.

Absolute Care and Health Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maria Deveson Crabbe says the report highlights the desire of older Australians to live out their days in their own homes, but also the unpreparedness or reluctance of the vast majority to plan for it and discuss their plans with anyone.

She also notes that people are making their care decisions quickly, and warns of a number of myths and misconceptions that are held around the level of Government support, services available and the cost of care.

“Future care is one of the largest costs for people in retirement, so planning for these expenses is a critical part of any retirement saving strategy, but many Australians are neglecting to adequately plan and prepare,” Ms Deveson Crabbe says.

“Although it is an uncomfortable topic for many, there are future care concepts that everyone should be aware of to ensure they’re able to fulfil their personal and family’s wants and needs.

“Building knowledge and confidence and having the conversations with family and professionals are critical to ensuring people are prepared.

“With 20 percent of Australians expecting their family to contribute to their future care, planning and decision-making affect every family right across Australia.”

She warns that families need to boost their knowledge and understanding of what choices and resources they have available to them and have a realistic understanding of the costs involved in their future care.

“A future care plan should be part of everyone’s conversation, so people can develop a good grasp of the essentials to ensure suitable care decisions are made and furthermore ensure they have a plan for funding their aged care needs,” Ms Deveson Crabbe explains.

“Every individual has unique circumstances and a vision for their retirement as they do for their future care aspirations.

“We need to help Australians improve their care readiness and get them on track by providing the facts and tools to help educate and inform.”

The findings relating to finances and future planning of the Absolute Care and Health research have also been backed by advocacy organisation National Seniors, who conducted their own research survey.

National Seniors Interim CEO Professor John McCallum says his organisation’s research shows that almost a third of Australians aged over 80 had exhausted their retirement savings and another quarter of 75-79 year olds were in the same boat.

He adds that while the survey saw most retirees rate income for life as one of the most important goals, the reality for many was “very different”, while also acknowledging that the survey revealed retirees consider covering health and aged care costs “very important”.

“The problem is despite many older people being aware of increased longevity, later life - and particularly nursing homes - is viewed very negatively,” Professor McCallum explains.

“Residential aged care throws dark shadows over old age, and who wants to plan for that?

“We have to want our futures to want to plan for them.

“Despite financial worries, just over half (56 percent) of retirees who completed our survey had made a financial plan for living longer.

“Our research is showing that older Australians need more help planning financially for old age.

“They need alternative investment options to the sharemarket - many remain wary of another Global Financial Crisis a decade on - and there are opportunities for the superannuation industry to step up here.”

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