Older Australians say aged care is a dirty word

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Aged care is a dirty word for many older Australians, with 25 per cent saying they’d rather take their chances at being fully independent than worry about any aged care services.

It’s no secret that the royal commission into aged care will uncover damaging evidence against the sector.

The medical peak body is fully aware that the health and aged care system is woefully under resourced and that aged care providers often don’t meet minimum standards.

“Many aged care providers commonly do not meet the Clinical Care Accreditation Standard, likely due to a shortage of trained, experienced and appropriate staff and a lack of resources,” said Australian Medical Association president Dr Tony Bartone.

“There are not enough registered nurses with aged care experience to provide the clinical governance, oversight and leadership required in these facilities, leading to poor clinical care, inadequate communication and a lack of knowledge about individual residents.”

The Government plans to pour billions into home care and aged care facilities. However, reports from those waiting endlessly for care packages and damning accounts of mistreatment in nursing homes have left an already struggling industry battered and bruised.

Little wonder then that older Australians are putting the notion of aged care out of their minds until it is absolutely necessary.

Results of the YourLifeChoices Friday Flash Poll: Solving the aged care mystery revealed the attitudes of older Australians towards aged care. While some results were expected, such as preferred methods of aged care, others were quite surprising and some downright shocking.

The bulk of respondents were aged between 60 and 70 (85 per cent) and were 60 per cent women to 40 per cent men.

Almost half of those who responded were receiving the Age Pension, 32 per cent were self-funded retirees and 16 per cent were employed either full or part time.

While the sector’s reputation is surely at an all-time low, 68 per cent still agree that they should be thinking about aged care.

Yet a paltry 13 per cent have a financial plan to fund this stage of retirement.

Of the remaining 87 per cent who don’t have a plan, 50 per cent say they intend to and 37 per cent say that have no intention of financially planning for aged care.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents who receive an Age Pension say they cannot afford aged care, and a large number still plan to remain independent throughout retirement.

Among reasons given for not having an aged care financial plan, 18 per cent said they couldn’t afford it, eight per cent said they would prefer to live in the moment, another eight per cent said they would rather leave their money as an inheritance, 14 per cent said they don’t understand the system, another 14 per cent said they didn’t want to think about it and six per cent said the Government should pay for it.

Most surprising was that 25 per cent said they plan to be fully independent throughout their retirement. This could be because the current state of aged care has many older Australians worried about their later years, people are actually able to be more independent or they are misguided and, perhaps, a little optimistic.

Just one per cent said they don’t care about aged care.

As expected, older Australians would prefer to age in place, with 54 per cent saying they’d prefer home care and 22 per cent saying they aim to be fully independent until they die. Around 16 per cent said they would move into a retirement village with aged care options, but a paltry two per cent said they’d trust an aged care facility enough to live out their final days in one.

The remaining five per cent had no idea which type of aged care they’d prefer.

Seven per cent said they’d rely on family for care, while 58 per cent said they would not and 36 per cent said they may partly need help from loved ones.

Around seven in 10 believe aged care advice should be paid for by the Government.

While the Federal Government’s My Aged Care website does an admirable job of demystifying the services, it would seem many older Australians do not know of its existence. Almost half of all respondents said they had no idea about government-subsidised aged care options.

As far as how many years they could expect in aged care, almost one in five said they would need six years or more, with a further 58 per cent having no idea how long they’d need.

When we asked why aged care is a dirty word, 26 per cent said it was because of negative reports from institutions and 19 per cent said negative media coverage was to blame. A quarter of respondents said it was just too expensive and 23 per cent said either themselves, family or friends had a bad experience.

A big cause for concern emerged from commentators who said they would never choose aged care. While some comments explaining why they would eschew aged care, such as the loss of independence and inability to trust those running the facilities, many Australians actually view the term itself as demeaning. Others went as far as preferring to take their lives rather than enter aged care.

“I intend to commit suicide if I need aged care – it’s demeaning,” said one member.

While another said: “I intend to euthanise myself so will have no need for aged care. Medically assisted euthanasia is not legal and if it were there would be too many restrictions!”

These were but two responses of many sharing similar sentiments.

Many have welcomed the Government’s aged care royal commission, but none more so than the older Australians who’ll need it most in the coming years.

Fortunately, the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, has acknowledged their concerns.

“We know that there are instances of sub-standard care that need a fair, independent and thorough assessment – to honour and support every family that has engaged and trusted aged care services across our nation,” Mr Wyatt said.

He certainly has his work cut out for him.

Do you think you’ll need aged care or are you ignoring the need? Do you share the same sentiments as those quoted?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 37
  1. 0

    After watching 4 Corners expose on Aged Care Services and having first-hand experience of the “care” of several elderly relatives, plus the government’s money grab for any assets remaining for the elderly to pay for sed “services”, euthanasia is looking more and more appealing! At least then ther’d be something left to leave to the next generation! Not that this self-serving LNP Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government cares a fig, as long as they retire with their fat pensions, travel allowances and perks! I am totally disgusted with what our country has become!!

    • 0

      Agreed, disillusioned. Just so long as its my choice and not the family wanting early access to the inheritance!
      I look out at the 4 storey monster building for the aged than has just gone up near me. The lights are on 24/7. There is no provision for parks or green space. Just a living coffin where the inmates will wait for death.

    • 0

      I have no intention of playing bingo is God’s waiting room waiting for my number to be called.

    • 0

      When I moved into a ‘Retirement Village’ I had cash left over from my house sale. I invested some and lost $35,000.00 in a downturn. The remainder I keep in Term Deposits. My intent is to assist in my care for when I will need it! The penalty was/is Centrelink said I’d been overpaid in my pension and took $680+ from me and reduced my age pension. I live reasonably well without touching my savings, rarely going out, no holidaying, dressing at ‘Vinnies’ and only gamble on RSLArt Union for a dream.
      What incentive is there to save for old age care?

    • 0

      So what exactly did the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government do disillusioned? What is going on now is nothing new and the issue of an ageing population has been known for the past 15 years.

    • 0

      Both the LNP and the ALP are neo-liberal sychophants sucking up to their Corporate Masters.

      Those hoping for a Labor helping hand are going to be badly disappointed.

  2. 0

    I would sooner kill myself than end up in Aged Care. The staff and food are shit.

  3. 0

    I have told my family and friends not to even think about putting me into aged care. I doubt there will be enough money to fund it anyway. My children live interstate and are making noises about me going to live nearer them. I would sooner chew my arm off. There are good aged care centres around but they cost an arm and a leg. I have a plan for the inevitable…….

  4. 0

    Granted an Aged Care Package after removal of a brain tumour and then open heart surgery in 2017 I had to decline the offer as I (self funded retiree) could not afford to pay for the services that the health industry professionals stated that I needed. I am now trying to obtain at the very least a Seniors Health Care Card so that I can continue to attend the “required” medical appointments. Centrelink have been extremely slow in moving this forward and some 10 months after the initial application I have today yet again been requested to provide “further information.” Aged care for me is certainly not an option and with no family assistance available I see myself as merely a survivor and nothing else as each year rolls around. Another year this week – ho hum such a grand life we live and I’m still breathing.

    • 0

      Flanjam, agree with you. Having recently helped my elderly aunt into a nursing home, it sure scared the hell out of me. We don’t live in a wealthy or up market area, but the prices to get into a reasonable place were just obscene. Ended up going into a tiny little place, bedroom would only just take her single bed, cost nearly $400 thousand. And meals are charged extra. The Govt says it wants to pour billions more into aged care..well that will only go to one place, in to the pockets of aged care facility owners. They are the ones getting fat on the industry.

    • 0

      Self funded retirees are being badly shafted. Punishment for saving so hard I suppose.

  5. 0

    I am ANOTHER one that will do away with myself rather than enter old age care —

    The “care” is disgusting and there is NO WAY I would put myself through that

  6. 0

    Surely the alternative to to not needing aged care is not living long enough to qualify!

    There would need to be significant changes to the home care packaging if more people are to stay in their own homes, particularly for those with no family e.g single childless people!

    • 0

      Keeping away from Government control and just seeking private service provision seems a good idea. Strange the minute Government and Privatisation using tax dollars starts it all goes pear shaped and people suffer.

  7. 0

    What can you expect when society “ glorifies “ youth?!
    All past Governments should hang their heads in shame.
    Ignored the “ burgeoning “ tsunami of seniors eligible for care/ pensions.
    Will have big ramifications for all in society.

    • 0

      I think that the government is just waiting until our generation have all died off, and things will go back to normal. No need then to cater to today’s needs, tomorrow it will all go away!

    • 0

      Barbara, people will still be getting old– our generation will be gone but what about the Baby Boomers and then the ones after that

    • 0

      Barbara Mathieson….Remember Australia’s population is 25 Million due to immigration not through Australian birth growth. I notice a lot of the Asian age pensioners can’t speak much English and never worked a day in their lives here. Asians have very long life spans but most of them have good family support. They won’t need to be in nursing homes. It’s a pity too many Australian children are so selfish and can’t look after their parents too.

  8. 0

    Can we have another Poll ?

    Which would you prefer?
    Voluntary euthanasia or Age Care ?
    The politicians should hang their heads in shame.

    • 0

      Definitely not aged care.

    • 0


    • 0

      Euthanasia …….

      …but only the way it was depicted in the “Soylent Green” Movie (1973 Charlton Heston)
      People were able to “walk-in” off the street – into super luxurious Clinics …. fill out a couple bits of paperwork.. then “Select” from a Menu …the way they wished to die!!

      You were taken into a luxury suite and could choose: music -one drink of any form (alcohol incl.) – watch whatever you wanted to on a large flat TV screen …… then die within a matter of minutes!

      This movie was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ahead of it’s time!! Resonated with me big-time even back then and I have never forgotten it!!

      The guy wanted to watch/see spring flowers and baby lambs (as there were none left in the world at that time) whilst his fav. piece of classical music played – he had a glass of red (in which they tipped the “powder”) … and passed peacefully!

      Bring on these type of Clinics – fast!!!!

  9. 0

    We need to come up with a “quick and painless” way out ….I do NOT want my “end of Life” decisions to be made by anyone but myself.

  10. 0

    Agree with all the posts.’
    BINGO/CARDS/crap food !
    I`VE JOINED EXIT INTERNATIONAL…….Dr Philip NIEKSE (EUTHANASIA)for ideas should i need it!

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