So what do you do now? Though you may feel empty and lost, it’s likely that you still have a great deal to do.
Give yourself time – The important thing at this point is to allow yourself time and space to grieve. You have lost not only a mate, but a long-term partner, an everyday companion, and, sometimes, a caregiver. Grief and sorrow as well as guilt for being a survivor are common feelings and take time to reconcile. It would be helpful to talk about your loss and your grief with someone close to you, or you may consider seeking out a grief support group or counsellor.
Consider your everyday living options – If you and your partner divided the tasks of everyday living, eg one of you may have looked after home and garden maintenance, while the other cooked the meals and paid the bills, then you may be feeling ill-equipped or unable to do the additional tasks necessary for everyday living.
If you are ill or frail, this can be particularly distressing for you. It is sometimes the case, that couples can live independently by relying on each other, but when one partners dies, the other may not be capable of living independently, on their own. However, if you still wish to continue living independently in your family home, but may need some additional care to do so, then please consider the following options:
- Home Support and Respite – Home support and respite provides basic aged care support services to people in their homes and offers support to carers, as well. These services include: domestic assistance; personal care; nursing care; social support; allied health care; respite care; centre-based day care; other meal services; goods and equipment; assessment; home modifications; client care coordination; case management; formal linen services; client counselling/support, information and advocacy; carer counselling/support, information and advocacy; meals; and transport.
- Respite Care – Respite care is an important support service for carers as it allows carers to have a break from their usual care arrangements. Respite care is provided in a number of settings to allow greater flexibility for carers. Respite care provides such options for carers as –
- day respite in community centres and residential homes
- respite in the home – both during the day and overnight
- overnight respite in community cottages
- community outings – either group or individual
- mobile respite
- employed carer respite
- Home Care Packages provide home-based care that can improve older Australians’ quality of life and help them to remain active and connected to their own communities. They are coordinated by an approved home care provider, with funding provided by the Australian Government under the Aged Care Act.
- A range of services may be provided under a Home Care Package, including:
- personal services – such as help with showering or bathing, dressing and mobility
- support services – such as help with washing and ironing, house cleaning, gardening, basic home maintenance, home modifications related to your care needs, and transport to help you do shopping, visit your doctor or attend social activities
- clinical care – such as nursing and other health support including physiotherapy (exercise, mobility, strength and balance) and hearing and vision services
- Retirement Villages – Retirement villages are residential, multi-unit complexes designed for people aged 55 years or older which also offer a range of health, leisure and support services. The majority of villages are ‘campus’ style with single-level villas occupying spacious landscaped grounds.
- Villages may include recreational and medical facilities, such as community halls, tennis courts, bowling greens, and rooms for visiting doctors or allied health professionals. Some retirement village residents have additional assistance through paid help (eg a cleaner) or community care packages, but they do not need daily help with dressing, bathing or cooking.
- To live in a retirement village, a prospective resident enters into a contract with the village operator. All retirement village contracts deal with a number of issues including the nature of the tenure (in particular long term lease, purchase or rental), and costs associated with moving into, living in, and leaving the village.
- Residential Aged Care Facilities – Residential aged care facilities (or Nursing Homes) offer supported living for those people who need daily personal assistance and cannot live alone. These facilities offer residents laundry and cleaning services, assistance with personal care, meals, and medication.
- Entry into a residential aged care facility is restricted by need. In order to move into a facility, the person must be assessed by a government-appointed Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) and judged as requiring personal assistance. The Assessment Team will consider the person’s ability to undertake day-to-day living activities and their medical needs.
- The payment structure for residential aged care is totally different to retirement villages. Accommodation and services in residential aged care is heavily subsidised and regulated by the Australian Government, whereas residents fully fund retirement villages and the regulations are not as extensive.
Seniors Relocation Services – Relocation specialists are businesses that provide a wide range of services which may include the options below. They offer a customised service depending on the level of involvement required by the family or Executor:-
- Provide an inventory of goods with photos
- Sorting and packing of items to go to family members, charities or to be sold
- Selling of unwanted furniture and goods
- Organise collection of items to be auctioned
- Organise collection of items to be donated to charity
- Pack and organise freighting of items
- Engage the services of valuers to assess the commercial value of items and properties
- Arranging rubbish removal
- Attend to garden maintenance
- Arrange painters and handymen
- Arrange disconnection of all utilities
- Cleaning the property for sale or rental
- Arranging removalists and storage
- Liaise with Real Estate Agents for the sale or rental of a property
Financial Advice –You could be entitled to financial help, known as bereavement benefits. You might be eligible for some of these benefits regardless of how much your income is. There are also other benefits you might be able to claim that can help if you will now have to manage on a low income.
When the time comes to settle the deceased’s estate it is advisable, depending upon the complexity of the ‘estate’, to seek both legal and financial advice from a solicitor, accountant and/or financial adviser.
Key documents to locate might include the deceased’s Will, Life Insurance Policy, Superannuation beneficiaries, Testamentary trust deeds etc.
- Wills and Estates – If you are the sole beneficiary and Executor of your partner’s Will, it is a fairly simple process to obtain a Grant of Probate so the estate can be finalised. You can seek assistance from the Public Trustees in your state or territory, so the services of a Solicitor.
- What is a Grant of Probate? – A Grant of Probate, generally called ‘Probate’, is the certificate granted by the Supreme Court confirming that firstly the Will of a deceased person has been proved and registered by the court; and secondly the right to administer the estate has been granted to the Executor named in the Will.
- If property is to be sold as part of the estate, a professional valuation is usually required to establish a correct fair market value, and also in calculating the taxes and other levies payable to the government revenue department on a regular basis.
- If the person has not left a Will, the estate is shared under a formula set by law.
- Finding lost money and assets – Many people have faced the issue of locating the assets of a deceased to settle their financial affairs, when the deceased has not left records. A good starting point is to search through files, safe deposit boxes and personal possessions. If available, check bank and credit card statements for evidence of payments to life insurance policies, super accounts, dividends and investments. Income tax return statements and address books can also provide information.
For the partner left behind after a death and their immediate supportive families, there are many ongoing concerns that will need to be addressed, regarding how best to secure a sustainable lifestyle for the surviving partner. You will find that many of these issues have been covered by our articles within the ‘Post Funeral Advice’ section of this website.
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