(Australian Associated Press)
Most older Australians are not mapping out plans to pay for their aged care, a survey shows, and researchers believe the sector’s bad press is partly to blame.
The National Seniors Australia and Challenger study, which analysed responses from more than 5000 Australians 50 years and over, found 38 per cent had pondered age care costs, while 14 per cent had accounted for them.
The likelihood of planning for aged care costs did not differ by gender or partner status and instead was strongly linked to older age, higher education and greater wealth.
Those exposed to aged care through a family member or friend were also 75 per cent more likely to plan for age care costs.
Professor John McCallum, chief executive and director of research at National Seniors, said the figures were alarmingly low.
“It is critical that aged care costs are built into later life financial planning,” he said in a statement to coincide with the release of the report on Wednesday.
“People are hesitating because of the negative media around nursing homes or simply denying the fact that they will need care and will have to pay for at least some of it.”
The 35-page report noted aged care was “not considered a desirable commodity”, specifically citing the “distressing findings” of the nation’s royal commission into the sector.
That report, made public in March, found up to 18 per cent of aged care residents had been either physically or sexually assaulted and one in three had experienced substandard care.
Challenger’s head of retirement income research Aaron Minney said that aged care planning could provide peace of mind.
“People find it hard and often confronting when forced to consider the fragility of old age, leading many to be caught off guard by unplanned aged care costs,” he said.
“Making a plan ahead of time can help ensure out-of-pocket costs are covered and provide confidence that you’ll be well looked after as you age.”