Our home is an essential part of living and could make the difference in our quality of care in later life – notably in whether or not we meet our needs, preferences or wishes.

So, we should consider how our homes will play a part in our care while we’re of sound mind and before the frailties of age sets in. According to Universiti Malaya’s Social Wellbeing Research Centre, the percentage of people aged 60 and above is expected to reach 3.5 million in 2020, increasing further to 6.3 million in 2040, which covers about 20% of Malaysia’s population.

Naturally, these figures would mean more people will be seeking medical and long-term care in the future, not counting the fact there have been reports that indicate fewer post-treatment patients are leaving hospitals in order to have access to immediate care. This creates rooming difficulties for patients with more urgent needs.

It’s a strong sign that we should be planning for care in later life – sooner rather than later. Much can happen quickly that could be life-changing, and this can range from an illness to a tragic accident. Planning ahead helps ease the burden of your family and loved ones in making difficult decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so.

By planning ahead, you will have ample opportunity to put into place financial and estate planning tools that enable you to have your preferred type of care. If that isn’t enough reason to plan early, you will also need time to gently discuss care plans with your family and research your options thoroughly to make informed choices about your future rather than making rushed decision during an emergency.

Here are the different considerations to help you get started.

  • Home Care

Home care is by far the most popular option. The main reason being that you can remain in the familiar surroundings of your own home and maintain possession of all your belongings. If remaining independent as much as possible is your priority – provided your health condition allows it within what’s acceptable safety – this option could be for you.

Home care provides flexibility in that a caregiver could visit you only when they’re needed (which could be a few times in a day), or live-in with you to provide round-the-clock care.

It should be noted that if nursing care is required – basically, anything that goes beyond what a caregiver can provide, i.e. grooming, bathing, feeding, transferring, etc. would fall into this category – it can have impact on financial costs.

Typically, the home care option can fulfil most of your care needs up until your health situation changes and necessitates transferring into an aged care facility. However, you should have a care assessment from a healthcare professional to check if this is suitable for you.

  • Residential Care

Residential care is characterised as care facilities that a person moves into when they have need of care and the staff are available round-the-clock to provide care. Some facilities may restrict how much independence you can exercise.

For example, in nursing homes you will be given a room – either private or shared depending on your choice – but you aren’t able to do much, as this option is for persons with more complicated health conditions and the support is much more based on medical needs.

More often than not, a person residing in a residential care facility is unable to live independently on their own anymore – be it due to circumstances such as needing a safe environment when there isn’t an available caregiver to look after you, or due to a debilitating health condition (such as dementia) that requires round-the-clock nursing care and supervision.

  • Accommodations with Care Concierge

As an alternative to the previous options, there are properties being developed where people can live in apartments that have access to a care concierge.

Unlike retirement villages, residents can move in at any age and live independently until such a time when they fall ill or need care. Residents could then contact and inform the concierge about their care needs, who will then manage the care process.

Some hotels have even begun to incorporate care services into their concierge service and offer short- to long-term stays for respite care to be competitive in the hospitality industry.

Planning Ahead with Estate Planning

There is a different nuance in planning for care compared to other life events in that you’re planning to live a certain lifestyle despite a potential disability or incapacitation.

If you are clear about which form of housing you wish to have and receive care, you need to have a ‘vehicle’ to clearly state and direct how your preferences should be followed-up on.

This is where estate planning is important as you would need to prepare documents to tell others how to take care of yourself and your assets. One of the documents is a Living Trust, which will dictate your preferences for end-of-life care.

It may seem daunting to plan for care, but you don’t have to get it done overnight. That’s not saying you should put it off till the last minute, but you should consider your options whilst you’re still alive and of sound mind.

Ultimately, it is important to consider how planning ahead for your care isn’t just for yourself, but it is also a gift for your family and loved ones to ease stressful decisions in the future.

ACG Concept Sdn Bhd is Malaysia’s first Lifestyle Advocate in aged care. It is an organisation whose purpose is to promote ‘Healthy Ageing’ as the modern lifestyle choice and empowering individuals to take charge of how they age.