Who cares for the carers?

Many older Australians may wish to stay at home for as long as possible rather than enter residential or aged care, but how does this affect family members taking on the role of carer?

Australia’s rapidly ageing population will mean there is an increase in the number of middle-aged Australians caring for their elderly parents as well as their own partners, children, work and social lives. These carers are known as the ‘sandwich generation’ – and the increased demand for in-home care has them scrambling for support.

It is estimated that around 1.5 million people exist within this ‘generation’. Around 70 per cent of older Australians want to spend their last years at home, but only 14 per cent will see this wish come to fruition.

And although it is usually more cost-effective to remain at home with support, it still comes at a cost to the lives of carers.

According to Dr Peter Hanley, Managing Director of National Care Management: “There are important steps to take if you are juggling caring responsibilities and work commitments in order to avoid burning out. As a family carer, maintaining your own health and wellbeing is a key element, as are nurturing supportive social connections and setting realistic expectations for yourself. Sharing responsibility with others is also important – this can include calling on other family members as well as drawing on external service providers to share the burden.

“Most of us will eventually need to get involved in the day-to-day arrangements of the care for our elderly parents. Some parents may have made provision for aged care or have assets that can cover the cost. But there are still questions around how the care will be coordinated and who will take on that task.”

Currently, there are only 80,000 Government-funded Home Care Packages and 207,000 subsidised residential care places. There are approximately 3.7 million Australians aged 65 and over, with that number expected to reach 6.3 million in the next 20 years.

As a result, many families are choosing to pay for private co-ordination of in-home care services, to help share the burden carried by family carers and ensure the important matters are well looked after.

Do you have any experience with private in-home care services? Why not share your thoughts with our members?

Related articles:
Care for carers
Will the carer supplement be paid?
10 ways to avoid carer stress

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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