With the advancement of modern medicine, more and more of us are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy life for longer. Over the past few decades, 3 months have been added to the average life expectancy on average each year, and this trend is set to continue well into the future.

By 2050, it’s expected that almost three times as many people in Australia will end up in aged care facilities. This shows that today it’s more important than ever to think about aged care and how it will affect your plans for retirement, both financially and otherwise.

Read more: 6 Things You Should Know About Aged Care 

One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is what kind of aged care facility you’re looking for. The process of making this decision isn’t easy. In fact, The Great Australian Aged Care Entry Survey 2016 found that half of all participants in the survey rated the process as either “Very Stressful” or “Extremely Stressful”. This isn’t actually all that surprising; there are a lot of very important things to think about and tough decisions to make. This can put stress on both you and any family members who may be involved in the decision.

To help minimize this stress, it may be worth thinking about the decision earlier in life as part of your retirement planning. Below is a list of factors to consider that may be able to help guide you in this important decision.

– Location

Most retirees and families of retirees consider location to be the number one most important factor when it comes to choosing a facility. You may want to prioritise facilities which are located close to family members in order to allow them to visit regularly.

It also might be important for you to choose a location that allows you to stay social, independent, and active for as long as you are able. Therefore, you might look for facilities that offer opportunities for residents to engage with the local community or those that are in proximity to facilities like supermarkets, libraries, churches, hospitals, and parks.

You also might want to think about the relative affordability of the location you choose. Some places in Australia are more affordable and can, therefore, provide retirees in aged care facilities more opportunities to spend within their means.

Read More: Top 12 Australian Retirement Destinations

– Food Options

Regardless of how old you are, food is important. Meals aren’t just sustenance, but they’re also something we look forward to every day and should be enjoyable.

Facilities will all have different menus and policies when it comes to meal provisions for residents. You might want to keep this in mind when making your decision and look for facilities that offer food that is both nutritious and delicious.

Another thing to look for is variation and personalisation. Check to see if the facility is willing to accommodate your personal preferences and dietary requirements and if they vary the food regularly to keep things interesting.

– Social activities

The importance of social interaction in your later years can’t be underestimated. Many studies have linked social interaction to overall health and mental wellbeing. It seems that seniors who continue to engage in close friendships and interact with members of their community enjoy happier, healthier lives.

This is something to consider when choosing a care facility. Look into the activities that the facility provides for its residents. Do they offer plenty of opportunities to interact with other residents? Do they organise activities for residents, or facilitate residents to do so themselves? Are there computers available for residents to use to stay connected online with friends and family? These are all questions that you might want to give some thought to.

– Staff

The staff at an aged care facility will be the people that are responsible for providing you with the level of care that you need. It’s important that you feel comfortable with the staff and secure in the knowledge that they will treat you with respect.

To ascertain this, it might be a good idea to visit the site personally and get an impression of what the staff are like. Look at how they interact with residents and see if they look happy in their job and handle themselves professionally. You could even consider asking residents if they feel comfortable around them.

– Rules, routines, and procedures

You should ask about daily routines and try to get a picture of what an average day looks like in the facility. There may be set meal times or bedtime policies in place. There is also often set visiting hours which you might want to ask about to make sure that the facility provides enough flexibility for family members to visit freely.

– Health and Mental Wellbeing Support

One of the most important things that care facilities provide is support for residents whose health or mental wellbeing begins to decline. You should look for a facility that offers good access to healthcare professionals and has good policies in place for promoting mental wellbeing and providing extra care for those who need it.

– Cost

Cost can be one of the most frustrating factors to consider when it comes to aged care facilities, as it can be expensive and not all facilities will be within your budget.

The standard daily care fee is set at 85% of the Aged Pension to ensure that care is affordable; however, there are other costs involved, too. You’ll need to think about refundable accommodation deposits known as ‘RADs’, means-tested fees, and extra services fees.

RADs are refundable when residents pass away or leave the facility and are often negotiable. Negotiation regarding RADs is something to discuss with facilities that you’re interested in as part of your decision-making.

Certain facilities will also offer the option to pay RADs as interest payments for those that can’t afford the lump sum upfront. This is another aspect that you’ll need to consider.

– Financially planning for Aged Care

Nobody wants to have to sacrifice on the quality of care they receive due to the cost. To make sure you can access any care facility you choose, it’s important to have a good financial plan in place.

Ethica Private Wealth Specialists may be able to help you with that. Book your 2-hour free consultation with a financial planner on the Sunshine Coast today, to discuss your retirement goals with them and start making more informed choices about your retirement.