For many families the need to address safe, enjoyable, community based living for older loved ones is inevitable. As our parents and grandparents age the need for good care and physical monitoring increases. And while many older members of society are able to live independently, others are not.

There are physical, emotional, psychological and legal issues that must be taken into consideration when families are trying to make the best and right decision for their senior family members. Often times the need for physical care and safety are prominent. However, the emotional needs and psychological wants of those that are ageing, are also paramount considerations. Finally, there are legal issues that must be taken into consideration that revolve around finances, real property and proper placement.

Physical safety regarding both the configuration of the living space and the need for medications and treatments to be properly administered are a pivotal issue when deciding to move a loved one to a new environment. For these issues to be properly addressed and resolved the family may need to consult a physician or medical caregiver. In addition, it is imperative that the person being relocated be given an opportunity to express their emotions regarding the pending life changes. Finally, it is necessary to assess if the person being moved can psychologically handle the magnitude of the stressors that come with leaving their home of a lifetime, neighbourhood and friends.

Whilst these issues can be daunting, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that the decision and the move happen in a manner that takes into account the well being, preferences and dignity of our elderly loved ones. One of these steps includes reviewing the various options available to those who will be moving. These options include:

  • Staying at home with the assistance of live in help to provide minimal physical care
  • Staying at home with boarders to ease financial circumstances
  • Having the home modified to meet the changing physical needs of the elderly person
  • Selling the home and moving in with younger family members
  • Selling the home and purchasing something smaller that allows for less maintenance or included maintenance
  • Retirement Villages and/or assisted living

Each of these avenues should be discussed openly with those who are in need of a change of living situation. With each option, the family should listen and compromise and choose that which will be most beneficial and safe for their member(s).

In the event that the best choice for the circumstances is a retirement village, then additional issues must be taken into consideration and carefully reviewed before making a decision. Some of these issues include:

  • Investigating what can be expected from the location chosen
  • How do the people living in the community feel about their daily living conditions?
  • The manner in which the financial living arrangement is set up
  • Identifying what costs are included in the monthly/yearly fee and those that are not
  • Is the facility properly licensed; including their staff
  • In what manner will the resident take control of the property; license/loan, leasehold, or free title
  • The terms of the actual contract

Many of these issues relate to finances. For the questions to be resolved other family members will have to embark upon helping their elderly family member(s) to review their personal finances. This can be awkward at best, and unwelcome at worst. But with care and consideration, the family can work together to answer the necessary questions of financial feasibility. For example, if everyone is willing to investigate the following financial issues, it will be possible to choose a location that will not create income stress for anyone.

  • Gathering financial records including; the value of the current home, investments, pensions, government benefit/subsidies and ongoing private retirement income
  • Seeking the advice of a financial planner for the proper investment of money gained from the sale of a home or other personal or real property

In addition to giving deference to the wants and needs and desires of the elderly family members who will be moving. It is also important that the legal issues be addressed. In NSW there is legislation that governs the operations of a senior community. The Retirement Villages Act of 1999 governs all areas of those facilities that give care to the elderly. In addition, The Retirement Regulation 2017 adds greater protections for those living in such facilities. These two Acts govern the information, contracting and care that a retirement village delivers to their residents.

In addition, the governance of the Acts includes;

  • The dissemination of information about all aspects of the retirement village
  • The particular contracts and rules that govern the village
  • Accountability for the incoming finances and the proper budgeting of the same
  • The defining of additional costs and services and the rates charged for these amenities
  • Annual meetings of the Board
  • The manner and forum in which any dispute that arises between a resident, their family member and the facility will be addressed

Lastly, families can consult the New South Wales Fair Trading website. This website provides a plethora of information from the most basic questions, to the most intricate. The site provides simple pertaining to what constitutes a retirement village, to the more complex questions pertaining to contract and services provided.

Moving a family member is a difficult decision. Many concerns must be taken into consideration that are financial, personal and legal. As such, having quality resources is important. Therefore, if you find yourself in need of assistance with this, or any other legal issue, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers.

At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs.

Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.