You want to age at home, but have you planned for it?

It seems plenty of you want to stay in your own home as you age, but may need some help to nudge that ambition along.

The YourLifeChoices 2022 Insights Survey found that while more than 65 per cent of the 6000-plus respondents were planning to age at home, only 12.5 per cent were confident about their plans to age in-place and only 8.05 per cent were confident their family would look after them.

And only just over half (58 per cent) of respondents believed they could maintain their home physically and financially for the rest of their lives.

So maybe it’s time to get cracking on a plan to stay in your home and discover some of the services that can help you.

The first thing you need to accept if you plan to age at home is that you are going to have to ask for, and accept, help.

Independence is admirable, but if you plan to stay in your home, accept that you will need help.

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Working out what help you will need is a personal thing. While some may still be happy cooking for themselves, for others even the idea of a major home maintenance project will be overwhelming. I feel like that even now.

The good news is, the government wants you to stay in your home. It’s cheaper for them than providing aged care, so they have plenty of resources to help you stay put.

Your local council should be your first port of call.

Log in to your local government website and check out their services. You may be surprised.

Almost all have support programs to help you stay in your own home, from domestic cleaning and home maintenance to meals, shopping, transport and even day care.

They have programs to keep you active and part of the community and, depending on your level of independence, they also may be able to hook you up with a volunteering opportunity.

At a federal level, you should investigate the Commonwealth Health Support Program (CHSP).

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The CHSP offers low-level care including home modifications, transport help with daily tasks and nursing care. As it says on its website: “A small amount of help to a large number of people.”

The CHSP aims to keep people in their own homes, stay socially active and be connected to their community.

If it looks like a double up with what the local government provides, well, there’s where our taxes go, I suppose.

Anyway, how it works is that CHSP workers carry out a face-to-face assessment in your home to work out what needs to be done to keep you living there.

There are about 1400 CHSP service providers in Australia. Most expect a client fee, which varies between providers but is often waived if there is genuine financial hardship.

For more complex needs there is the Home Care Packages Program (HCPP).

Like the CHSP, approved providers work with recipients to plan, organise and deliver home care packages.

There are four levels of care from level one for basic care needs to level four for high care needs.

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The government assigns home care packages to people – not providers. This means a person can choose a provider in their area that meets their needs. It also means the person can take their package with them if they want to change providers.

Unfortunately, there is only so much money in the pot and as there is a lot of demand for packages, you may need to wait while care can be assigned to you.

It is not free. Recipients are expected to pay basic daily fees and extra fees will be charged depending on an income test. If you want extra services offered by the provider, which are outside your care plan, you will have to pay for those.

If you qualify under the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) there is a huge range of packages available, too many to go into here, from basic at-home help to the department’s own aged care residences.

When my father-in-law was ill, the DVA was hugely supportive and made a few very difficult decisions much easier.

Do you plan to stay in your own home? Have you investigated any support services? Why not share your tips in the comments section below?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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