Being a carer can be lonely, but Sue found good advice cleared a path through the maze of aged care and helped her focus on what was best for her parents.
Watching your parents get older and needing care is a heart-wrenching part of life. Your roles are reversed as you are now taking the lead in caring and advising.
For some people the transition can be hard, especially when one or both parents are ill and require care urgently.
Sue's parents had periods of illness and respite care before it became obvious they needed full-time care in an aged care facility.
"Having the conversation as early as you can, before a parent is ill or becomes incapacitated is important." Steve Simioni, Mercer financial adviser.
It was a tough journey finding the right place, overcoming language barriers and navigating "the minefield of paperwork" that comes with seeking out aged care facilities. Months on, the couple is settled into their new home. Thankfully, Sue says, they have a double room in the nursing home, which means they can be together.
A rapidly ageing population means more and more Australians find themselves in Sue's position, having to make quick decisions on behalf of their parents - or siblings or other close relatives - about complex and highly personal issues.
For Sue, the process of helping her parents manage their finances and transition to a nursing home was emotional but made easier with the help of Mercer financial adviser, Steve Simioni.
"We didn't know where to turn or where to even start asking questions, even with Centrelink. All we knew was that mum and dad needed care - dad had spent three months in hospital away from mum, and then mum had to go into respite care," Sue said. "We were recommended Mercer by my in-laws and Steve was brilliant in working through what we needed to do and when. I cannot thank or recommend him highly enough."
Steve, a financial adviser for more than 15 years, says helping families plan for the future is about listening to individual needs, and everyone is different. For Sue, the need was immediate and the financial issues were complex.
"We were able to take the pressure off by guiding her through the whole process, including liaising with the facility and dealing with Centrelink," Steve said. "Her parents were elderly and not well, so we needed to consider what would work best for them as they had spent a long time apart in recent months because of poor health.
"By taking responsibility of the financial issues we were able to allow Sue to focus on the care and wellbeing of her parents."
Aged Care Steps director Assyat David recommends families talk about health care, finances and basic needs and wants associated with ageing before they become necessary.
"Decisions about aged care are generally made by someone other than the person who needs it - usually their children - and are often made when things need to be done very quickly so the whole family experiences a high degree of stress," Ms David said. "The dialogue around supporting your parents to stay at home longer and then preferences down the track is much easier than the emergency 'I don't think you're coping' conversation and it can deliver much better outcomes."
Get on the front foot
Aged Care advice is something worth considering. To get on the front foot, speak to a Mercer financial adviser to understand what needs to be considered today.