Frail Care – The Cost of Comfortable Living

Growing older is a reality that cannot be ignored. Making provisions and planning ahead can make all the difference when it comes to approaching old age with comfort and dignity. People often think that if they have made arrangements to move into a retirement community they will be eligible to receive frail care, however this isn’t always the case.

Frail care may sound straightforward, but a retirement village may offer different levels of frail care. There are about as many different care facility arrangements as there are retirement homes and villages.

More often than not there are additional costs involved, medical aid cover was not designed to cover ongoing frail care. Certain specific medical aid schemes may partially cover frail care costs, but the cover is limited and the costs are high. Some retirement communities have dedicated frail care centres with extra fees involved and some villages have no healthcare facilities at all.

Frail care facilities can cost anywhere between R13 000 and R25 000 a month, depending on the facility and the quality of care. Caregivers can perform a wide array of administration and medical duties. Their wages depend on their qualification and experience, the level of skill required and the demands of the situation.

This usually comes as quite a surprise to those who have not yet considered the costs. Navigating the terminology and what falls under which schemes can be daunting. As financial advisors we can make a stressful process for our clients that much easier – by informing ourselves we are adding value to our clients.

Due to the diverse conditions associated with getting older there are multiple levels of care on offer. Nursing staff can provide acute, primary and palliative care.

Acute care is required for a short period of time when a patient needs urgent medical care. If the retirement village has an acute care facility (a hospital), then care takes place in a licenced and registered facility with a practice code number. Cover for care in these facilities would normally form part of a medical aid benefit.

A sub-acute care facility is for a patient whose condition has stabilised; someone who no longer needs hospital level care, but still requires professional care. Depending on your medical aid scheme and especially on your condition, some of the care provided in a sub-acute facility may be covered.

Primary care provides ongoing medical care for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma.

Palliative care focuses on reducing the severity of the symptoms of a disease, not on curing it. Diseases such as cancer, renal disease and chronic heart failure. There is often uncertainty about medical scheme cover when death is imminent. Medical schemes are obliged to pay for what is known as palliative care for the terminally ill. This is intended to improve quality of life when there is no prospect of prolonging life. Typically, this care focuses on pain relief.

Frail care is something we all have to think about, whether in planning for ourselves or for our loved ones. There might be medical aid coverage or GAP cover options that can help with medical aid shortfalls, or long-term investments that can provide the secure cash flow needed for something like frail care.

There are many avenues and options when it comes to approaching infirmity, but the sooner we start talking about it the more financially and emotionally confident we can be.

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