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Five adjustments if your spouse moves to care

Life is filled with changes. But with preparation and good advice, you may be able to manage the changes more effectively to minimise the stress.

Watching your spouse’s health decline can be difficult and stressful. And if this decline results in a move to aged care, you will both be faced with a lot of changes.  These changes might include getting used to a new routine and sleeping arrangements, as well as financial, legal and emotional adjustments.

In this article, we highlight five aspects that couples may need to think about and tips to help you to adjust.

1. Your Centrelink age pension

If your spouse (or both of you) move into care, you might qualify for a “payrise” through a higher age pension. This increase can help to cover higher expenses and care costs.

When a move into care is involved, illness-separated couple rules apply. Your pension continues to be assessed on combined financial means but is paid at the higher single rates of pension. A couple’s age pension could increase by up to $14,000 per year (combined).

Update your Centrelink (or Veterans’ Affairs) records as soon as possible after the move and let them know that you are now an illness-separated couple. If you previously just missed out on an age pension it might be worth reapplying.

2. Your emotions

You might experience feelings of guilt and/or grief. These are normal reactions and it may take some time to deal with your emotions. Ensure you have lots of support from good friends and family or seek professional help if needed.

3. Your lifestyle changes

You will both experience changes in your daily routines.

In care, your spouse may need to adjust to a new routine including a different bed, changes in mealtimes and different cooking styles. The care staff will be able to help with tips for settling in. You may find that your house feels empty and lonely. Your daily routine might see care activities being replaced with visiting your spouse and regaining some of your own social life.

If your spouse was receiving a home care package before moving into residential care, that package (and any support services such as home cleaning that it was paying for) will stop. You might consider whether you now qualify for your own home care package or other home support to help maintain your independence. If needed, contact the MyAgedCare team to arrange an assessment.

4. Your home

If your home does feel too big or lonely, or it is hard to visit your spouse, you might decide to move. This might be a move to a smaller home, or a differently located home. Or perhaps you might want to move to a retirement village.

Changing homes will create financial implications for your age pension and care fees. It might also release equity. We can provide advice to do the numbers and make recommendations on appropriate strategies.

5. Sorting your legals

If your spouse was nominated as your enduring power of attorney/guardian or executor of your will it might be time to speak to your lawyer about updating the documents and nominating someone else.

If you want to talk through your options or find out more information for your situation, reach out to our experienced team here to arrange an appointment.

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