Step 2.1

How do I face up to aged care?

Facing up to aged care

Moving into an aged care home is a momentous step for you and your family and a highly emotional time for all concerned.  A lot of practical steps need to be taken, often under time pressure.  It’s important to realise that, while your family’s circumstances are unique, you are not alone. 

We are here to help with advice on how to manage the emotional highs and lows. Also please consider seeking advice or assistance from a trusted friend or relative, the GP, a counsellor, or a member of the clergy, for example.  You can also contact the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on: 1800 700 600.   The My Aged Care contact centre can also help: phone 1800 200 422 or visit the website.

Having the conversation

Whoever raises the topic, at some stage there needs to be an honest and open conversation about your current situation and the ‘what ifs’.

And it’s always best to start the conversation sooner, rather than later.

Top Tip

You have much more control and you'll get a better outcome if you act before a crisis is upon you.

It is worthwhile considering the following when contemplating different courses of action.

  • Your health and medical status
  • Where you might live if home was no longer an option
  • Your key decision-makers if you lose capacity
  • Your end-of-life wishes?
  • Whether your will needs updating
  • Your financial situation and whether you need financial advice
  • The possibility of needing to sell your home to help pay for your accommodation and care
  • The people, pets and other things you might be concerned about
  • Any special requests or wishes about your future


  • Location of key documents and passwords
Making it the best it can be:

However you choose to approach the topic, there will be complex questions and emotions - for you, your family members and others close to you.  Here are our tips for giving everyone the best chance at a good outcome:


Everyone has the right to take risks and make decisions about their own life

Even when someone is very ill or has early signs of dementia, they need to be able to express their opinions and preferences and have them respected. The exception is when someone is unconscious or has severe cognitive impairment from dementia or other brain disease or injury.

Think of it as an ongoing series of conversations

Ideas can evolve and opinions change over time. Available options can change.  Unless the situation is critical, there is no need to finalise decisions in a single conversation.

Start talking sooner, rather than later. 

Allow time for several discussions with minimal pressure involved. Don’t wait for a crisis. 

Be open, honest and respectful

Be sensitive to everyone’s needs and concerns but don’t avoid being truthful either.

‘Walk a mile in my shoes’

If you are the person who needs to think about aged care, remember to consider the impact your attitudes and decisions can have on family members and loved ones.  What if you were in their shoes?  While you may be determined to stay living in your home at all costs, what impact will this decision have on your loved ones?  Are they worried over-stretched trying to help you.

If it is your parent or another loved one who is having to consider the future in these terms, avoid the trap of the role reversal.  They may be in a difficult patch of life but they are not children.  They are adults who have led full and meaningful lives and now they are dealing with complex emotions and feelings of change and loss.  Ask yourself: How would you like to be spoken to?

Mind your language

No matter how smooth and understanding the process has been or how appealing the aged care home, these are difficult conversations.  Nobody likes to be ‘moved to a nursing home’.  It implies total loss of personal power which should never be the case.   Be positive and considerate.  Avoid language that implies the person is a ‘problem’ to be solved.   Find common goals and work together as much as possible.  Focus on getting the right care and support, retaining as much independence as you can.

Listen – don’t make assumptions

Don’t assume you know what your parent or loved one will think and feel.  At the same time, don’t assume you know what your adult children or other loved ones will want for you. Listen to each other with an open mind and be prepared to accommodate surprises. 

Make it a collaboration

One of the new policy mantras in aged care is to ‘do with’, not ‘do for’.  It’s an acceptance that most people hate to have their sense of choice and control taken away, even when they know they need other people’s assistance.  However well-meaning it might be, it’s never a good idea to simply ‘take over’.  If you’re looking at care options, do it together.  Sit in front of the computer together, make phone calls together, keep lines of communication open and transparent. If you want to hand things over to someone else, that’s fine as long as it’s your decision, on your terms.

Get outside help if you need it

You might want to consider seeking advice or assistance from a trusted friend or other relative, the GP, a counsellor, or a member of the clergy, for example.  You can also contact the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on: 1800 700 600.   The My Aged Care contact centre can also help: phone 1800 200 422 or visit the website.

  • Accept old stereotypes about aged care. Aged care is very different these days and you can expect to be pleasantly surprised 
  • Apply pressure on someone to get an outcome - and never resort to emotional blackmail.


  • Assume that because someone has lost capacity to do some things, that they've lost all capacity.
Top Tip

Start talking sooner, rather than later and think of it as an ongoing series of conversations.

NOTE for family members and carers:

If you are caring for or advising a loved one who needs to find aged care, and you plan to help them navigate the process, you will need to have their permission to act on your behalf.

Have a question? Open our discussion forum

Popular Articles

View All Articles
Article Img
What makes a great retirement village manager?

As anyone who lives in a retirement village will tell you, the village manager is a central figure who is critical to the success of the village and the happiness and wellbeing of village residents. But there’s no doubt the village manager plays an essential role. So, what is the role of a retirement village manager?

Article Img
Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening!

Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening! Now, some of Australia’s largest retirement village operators are looking at new ways to pay for retirement villages that don’t include exit fees – indeed, there are calls for some exit fees to be banned.

Article Img
What sort of profits do retirement village owners make?

The number of Australians over the age of 75 is expected to increase by 70% over the next six years. The number of Australians over the age of 80 is expected to triple to more than 3.5 million over the next 40 years. As the number of older people in Australia surges, so too does demand for age-appropriate housing – such as retirement villages, which offer an affordable lifestyle, community, and ongoing health and wellness support.

Article Img
73% of Australians willing to sacrifice inheritance for aged care

Nearly three-quarters of all Australians are willing to sacrifice their own inheritance so their parents and grandparents can enjoy the retirement they deserve, according to a new report by B2B aged care service CompliSpace.

Article Img
Volunteers are the backbone of the aged care sector, and more are needed

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages, such as 90-year-old Lily Burns and 20-year-old Charlise Hannagan, volunteer in aged care homes. The Change Makers is the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, 15 to 21st May, which celebrates the vital work of volunteers.

A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.