A look at the marital status of men and women going into care tells an interesting story
In speaking to people planning for retirement, the story is one of aged care being a safety net for whoever lives longest. The thinking being that residential aged care will be an option if a spouse is no longer there to help.
The statistics do tell this story, but only to an extent.
Males moving into residential aged care are more than twice as likely as females to have a living spouse. In fact the majority of males going into full time residential aged care are married.
For women going into care, the largest group are widowed, which can be expected given the life expectancy for Australian women is higher than for men.
Men going into residential aged care are mostly married:
Women going into residential aged care are mostly widowed:
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Blue segment is "unreported". Divorced and Separated statistics have been merged.
A separation - what does the system do?
There are some protections for couples separated due to one needing residential aged care.
Firstly, there is a different category of pension - called "Illness separated (couple combined)", which allows for each member of the couple to receive a higher rate of pension should they be separated due to the need for full time residential aged care. (This pension is the same as the single pensioner rate based on a 50:50 split of the couples' income and assets).
Secondly, the house is not considered an asset for aged care testing if it is occupied by the spouse. This protection will continue under the "Living Longer, Living Better" changes.
What does this mean for you?
Even though there are some concessions for couples separated by the need for one to go into care, there is still potential for a significant financial upheaval.
Once again, making the best decision based on an informed view of the situation is going to be just one of the challenges amongst a very difficult situation.
How do you make an informed choice?
You get an informed view with the help of Later Life Advice.
Give us a call to discuss your situation on 1300 557 825, or make contact via the website.