Can you really afford to go cruising instead of living in an aged care home?
We recently read an article in which an elderly lady said it was cheaper and more enjoyable for her to stay on board a cruise ship than downsizing on land or residing in an aged care or retirement home. We were interested to know whether there was any truth in those claims, and so began checking out the options. Keep reading to see what we found out.
In recent years we have had to place two older relatives into assisted-living aged care or nursing/retirement homes in Australia. Both of these people had different reasons for needing that type of ongoing care and both had very different financial circumstances. One was living on a basic aged pension and had no real assets. She was physically quite able to look after herself in the early days, but suffered dementia which made living in her own home difficult and possibly dangerous. The other relative suffered from physical disabilities and as time went by his dementia also meant that he needed a far greater level of care than the other relative. He owned his own home and was a self-funded retiree with a small aged care pension.
In Australia, currently there are different payment schemes for admission to aged care facilities depending upon your financial circumstances and ability to contribute towards your assisted care. The first relative was required to pay 85% of her aged pension to the organisation running the aged care home, which left her a small amount for ‘other’ living expenses such as haircuts and the odd coffee she had on outings she went on. All other accommodation and food costs were covered.
The relative who was a self funded retiree also had to pay 85% of the equivalent aged full care pension. But he also had to declare and was assessed on all his assets and income through his superannuation. In his case that meant his contribution was roughly double what the other person paid, totalling around AUD$96 per day. This amount was charged monthly according to a 28 day month or just over AUD$2,600 a month. Like the other relative, he was required to pay for additional out-of-pocket expenses such as haircuts, money spent on outings, medication and the like. He would also be responsible for additional charges if his health deteriorated and additional care was required.
As we began looking at the cost of cruising we very quickly discovered that while many cruise daily costs were greater than that paid in an aged care home, there were constant specials being advertised by many companies for low season cruises, last-minute bookings, inside cabins, and repositioning cruises as ships travelled to another part of the world to prepare for their high season. Many of these cruise companies were advertising inside cabins for under AUD$90 a day. So, ‘in theory’ at least, it was possible to cruise at a cheaper rate than staying in an aged care home, but only if you were a self-funded retiree paying more than that amount in your assisted-living facility.
Of course, there are always going to be valid questions about whether an elderly person in need of some assistance should be in a safe and secure aged care home where they can receive the appropriate level of care they require, as well as whether they would even be safe by themselves on a ship at sea. And these are quite valid concerns, especially if the person has memory lapses, severe physical limitations, is incontinent, or might be at risk of harm. And certainly in the case of our two relatives we do not think that cruising would have been a safe or viable alternative for the level of care they required.
But for others who may be advancing in years, have some degree of financial independence, and are still able to either care for themselves or travel with someone who can assist them, we think that cruising sounds like a fabulous alternative. Why would you choose an aged care home when you could be cruising to a different part of the world every day, enjoying great food, professional service, daily entertainment, new friends every few weeks, and a lifestyle many people only dream of?
Many cruise companies now offer special loyalty program discounts to people who book additional cruises with them, as well as complimentary internet credit and afternoon tea, and special onboard offers. Of course, anyone who has been on a cruise is aware that there are always extra costs involved onboard and so anyone contemplating retiring aboard a cruise ship would need to do their research well, check out what is and isn’t covered, be aware of what medical facilities are available onboard, what their travel insurance will and will not cover, and any passport/visa issues.
At the end of the day, assisted-living options will suit those who need it, cannot afford other options, require ongoing care of some kind, or need to be close to family and friends. For those who still have the ability to care for themselves, or pay for someone to assist them, and feel that cruising would be a more enjoyable or financially viable option, then life on the high seas sounds like a great way to see out your senior years on this planet.
What do you think? We would love to know your thoughts, especially if you have made such plans yourself, or are considering this as a possible option to life in an aged care/retirement/assisted-living environment.
Living each adventure,
Christine and Trevor
Empowering people to live a healthy, active, authentic and fulfilling life.
Adelaide, South Australia.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is written for informational purposes only and is based on Christine and Trevor’s own life experiences. No food or drink featured on this site should ever be consumed or handled if known or suspected allergies exist. Nothing featured here should be taken as medical, professional or legal advice. It is always recommended that you consult the appropriate professional before changing any routine or adopting any new procedure.