Government on wrong tack in aged care

OUR population is ageing rapidly, courtesy of the baby boom that followed World War II.

As these baby boomers reach their 70s and 80s they will place increasing pressure on our health system and on government coffers, particularly with the increase in dementia cases.

However, the federal government has chosen to ignore this.

Instead of pumping money into creating a health system, and in particular an aged care system, which can cope with an influx of high-care patients, the government has demonised the ageing process.

It has made cuts to and put tough conditions on pensions, disability pensions, carers' allowances and aged care funding, and it intends to force the retirement age up over the next few years.

While these measures may save money in the very short term, in the middle and long term they are going to be an absolute disaster.

Spouses and children, most commonly wives and daughters, are already struggling to cope with the caring burdens placed on them.

They are forced to put their own lives on hold and risk their own health and life savings to look after their loved one, and the amount of respite care and government funding they can access is minimal at best, and already stretched.

When they do get care, the overworked staff are often not as well trained as they could be and their pay is far below adequate.

Aged care nurses are still paid less than acute care nurses and their work is by no means less arduous.

If this system is allowed to continue it will collapse in the next few years.

The government has no appreciation of how much unpaid carers do for the country and how much money they allow governments to save.

The status quo is not sustainable.

The carers themselves are getting older and will need help themselves, while younger people are hard-pressed just to make a living.

Our older citizens are deserving of more respect than this.

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