Australia’s ageing population in need of Respite care

Australia’s ageing population together with a rapidly expanding population poses a massive economic and social challenge.

This message, already out in the public domain for quite some time, has been reinforced again in the recent Productivity Commission Report that was released on Friday 22 November 2012 – “An Ageing Australia: Preparing for the Future”.

This ageing and growth trend in the demographics of Australia has crept along slowing and virtually unnoticed. The impact of this slow and evolutionary change is, as stated in the Commission’s Report, minimal as this “slow and profound shift does not elicit the same scrutiny as immediate policy issues”.

The aim of the Commission is to promote facts, trends and inevitable consequences if we, as a nation, chose to keep these important issues on the backburner of our political and social conscience.

The report highlights a number of issues that will need to be placed on the political and social agenda for public debate and resolution. The do nothing (or little that has been the character of addressing this issue to date) is fast becoming a NO OPTION.

The Commission has suggested raising taxes, lifting the retirement age, and taking a slice of a pensioner’s home to pay for Australia’s ageing population. The report warns of the rising financial strains of health and aged care costs.

This will have a profound impact on the way aged care services are delivered, and in particular, on the more cost effective home care option for an ageing Australia.

Respite care

So with less funding available to provide health and aged care services, families will be encouraged to take on more and more of the aged care role to support their ageing family members at home.

This aged care role places a great of deal of stress family members who find themselves re-focusing their life to the dedicated care of an ageing family member.

The time and energy demanded of the carer is enormous. Firstly, the daily routine of providing aged care for a family member at home is huge – the carer is often in a position of being on demand at all times to attend to important needs. Secondly, the impact on the carer’s own well-being is significant. Their other time commitments – career, recreational interests, and hobbies and so on – are rationed, placed on hold or totally ignored.

Providing aged care for a loved one is life changing, as well being relentless. In order for the carer to maintain some form of life-balance outside the family home, which is essential for the health and well being of the carer, respite care is a valuable service that provides relief (respite) for then carer.

Respite care can be organized to allow the ageing family member to be cared for by a qualified personal care worker in the family home, while the carer takes a break – away from the family home into a setting where enjoyable activities all the carer will be out of the family home to allow the carer a chance to regain their energy level and renew their commitment to their loved one.

The benefit of respite care is that it can be organized for a short term – couple of hours to catch up with friends at the local coffee shop –through to an extended break involving an overseas trip. Respite care can be organized quickly in response to a family situation so the family members requiring aged care at home are never left with needs unmet.

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