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Aged care costs blow out

Our twilight years may consist of: being forced to sell the family home; living apart from our spouse; erosion of inheritance wealth; and compromising on our anticipated quality of life when ­entering an aged care facility, warns Liz Forsyth at The Australian.

The cost of aged care is increasing rapidly. Advances in health mean we live longer  – the average Australian is now expected to live to 80 (male) and 85 (female), and the numbers of pensioners will soar by 2055.

Over the same period, the number of working taxpayers to each elderly person will decrease from 4.5 to 2.73, placing significant pressure on the Australian workforce, and the government, to ­support our ageing population. Aged care expenditure is expected to increase from 0.9 per cent of GDP in 2014/15 to 1.7 per cent of GDP by 2054/55

The cost of residential aged care is also increased by residents being older, frailer, and having more complex care conditions, with an increased prevalence of dementia.

About 76,000 new aged care places will be required over the next decade, with estimated sector capital investment of $33 billion.

A large proportion of existing facilities are losing relevance. The average age of facilities in Australia is over 20 years, with many originally designed for ‘‘low care’’ purposes. These facilities will not be able to accommodate residents with complex care needs.

Government and industry must come together now to find sustainable long-terms options for the sector, while ensuring that we protect the vulnerable and aged, and consider the impact to families and the wider community.

Otherwise the “Great Australian dream” of home ownership looks like having a nasty sting in the tail.

FULL STORY

Great Australian dream will punish elderly unless government acts (The Australian)

PHOTO

Moyan Brenn / Flickr / CC 2.0