Reliance on family carers of elderly rises

Aged care system relying more on family to look after the elderly

Aged Care Royal Commission
Family carers will become an increasingly significant part of the aged care system, a report says.

Family carers will become an increasingly significant part of the aged care system, a report says.

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Aged care royal commission will focus on the needs of family and other unpaid carers during a regional Victoria hearings.

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Australia's aged care system will increasingly rely on family members to look after the elderly as the population continues to age, an inquiry will hear.

The aged care royal commission will focus on the needs of family and other unpaid carers during a three-day public hearing beginning Monday in Mildura in regional Victoria.

Carers are critical to the sustainability of the aged care system, providing support and services that may otherwise be funded by the taxpayer, a background paper prepared by royal commission staff noted.

The report said the role of carers has been increasingly recognised over the past 20 years, but questions remained over the extent to which current services help carers meet the needs of the people they care for.

"As the population in Australia continues to age, the reliance on carers is set to increase," the report, released ahead of the hearing, said.

"The need to ensure current services appropriately assist carers to meet the needs of the people that they care for appears greater than ever."

The report noted more people are needing care as the population ages but the number of people available to provide care to older family members and friends is expected to rise at a much slower rate.

A number of people caring for older relatives will give evidence during the hearing, along with experts who will discuss their research on the contribution of carers and the challenges they face.

"Our most recent research with carers of people with dementia shows that new reforms appear to not be adequately responding to the needs of carers of people with dementia for respite information and support," the University of Wollongong's Dr Lyn Phillipson said.

The inquiry will hear University of NSW research suggested the provision of unpaid care can have profound impacts on carers' participation in employment and education, on their incomes and retirement incomes, on their social relationships, and on their health and wellbeing.

Advocacy group Carers Australia's national policy manager Sue Elderton said many carers of the elderly were partners who were ageing themselves.

Many felt stressed and anxious about the condition of the person they cared for and what would happen in the future, she told AAP.

"Will you the carer die before they do is also a worry for many people, because what happens to them then," she said.

Australian Associated Press

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