31 January 2009

More older Australians opt to remain in their homes

Siobhain Ryan in The Australian reports an emerging trend in aged care:

Elderly Australians are breaking down the retirement village walls, with aged care operators lodging twice the interest in providing care in the community than in nursing homes.

Official figures obtained by The Australian show the federal Government has received 10 times the number of applications to provide care in people's homes as there are places available.

The 27,039 bids for the government-funded community care places dramatically outnumbered the 13,956 received for nursing home places.

Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot, said the Government was looking at ways to expand community care in response to the demand. "It is wonderful that the aged-care sector are listening and responding to the concerns and preferences of older Australians," Ms Elliot said.

"Older Australians are telling us they want the choice to remain in their homes and only want to enter nursing homes when it is absolutely necessary.

"Older Australians are healthier and more active (when) they are in familiar surroundings."

Community care offers in-home support services such as cleaning, washing, showering and preparing meals for the frail aged, including those with dementia. Almost 465,000 Australians are forecast to develop dementia by 2031, more than double the current number, forcing many of them into nursing homes unless at-home services are available.

Sounds like an eminently sensible approach.

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