OLDER Australians are spending less time living in aged care homes despite their longer lifespans.
Financial factors and a growing use of home care options have pushed the average age of entry into residential aged care to 83, and experts believe it will continue to rise.
Later Life Advice principal Brendan Ryan said people typically stayed in aged care homes for two or three years “but industry participants say this length of time is getting shorter each year”.
“Residential aged care is becoming an end-of-life care service, driven by the strong preference of older people to stay in their homes,” he said.
It was also cheaper for the government when people remained at home, Mr Ryan said, even after recent rule changes had given the system a greater user-pays focus.
Productivity Commission data shows more than 275,000 Australians were in residential aged care last year while another 900,000 were receiving home care services. Home care costs the government about one-quarter of the total $15.8 billion annual aged care bill, while residential care is two-thirds.
“In 2015 the average government subsidy per aged care resident was $56,000,” Mr Ryan said.
Social researcher Mark McCrindle said there was a trend of seniors downsizing to smaller private properties rather than looking to aged care accommodation, and they also could afford better services and lifestyle options.
“Compare that to the previous generation when the family home in the outer suburbs was the last home they had, and chances are it had steps and was a long way from services,” he said.
“Since 1968 Australia’s total population has doubled but the over-65 population has more than tripled.”
Mr McCrindle said seniors would continue to be more active later in life. “It comes about because of medical intervention — instead of being in a wheelchair they can get that hip replacement in their late 70s.”
Peak seniors body COTA Australia’s CEO, Ian Yates, said the bulk of aged care was now delivered in the home.
“We will see the age level into residential care certainly go up — people are staying healthier for longer,” he said.
Whether people would spend less time in aged care in the future was a complex question, Mr Yates said. “One issue is the increasing dementia issue — people may not be sick other than having dementia, and might live longer,” he said.
Consumers were more in control of their aged care decisions, and would have an even greater say after new rules came into force next year, Mr Yates said.No Comments »