Half of Australians in permanent residential aged care suffer from dementia

A new web report, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), looks at two streams of aged care services: residential aged care (where a person lives in an aged care facility, either on a permanent or temporary basis) and the Home Care Packages Programme (an alternative to residential aged care where services are designed to support people to live independently in the community for as long as possible).

New data in Residential aged care and Home Care 2013-14, shows that 7.8% of the Australian population aged 65 and over were in residential aged care in 2013-14, and another 2.5% received a package of care in their home. 

'People in residential aged care generally had high care needs,' said AIHW spokesperson Justine Boland.

'At 30 June 2014, 83% of people in permanent care needed a high level of care-compared with 76% in 2008. More than half (52%) of all people in permanent residential aged care had a diagnosis of dementia,' she said.

People in residential aged care also had higher rates of dementia than the estimated prevalence rates for their age.

'For example, in the general population, 3% of people aged between 65 and 74 are thought to have dementia, but some 43% of people in permanent residential aged care in the same age group had a diagnosis of dementia,' Ms Boland said.

There were 173,974 people in permanent residential aged care at 30 June 2014. The majority (77%) of people were 80 years or older, and the average age was 84.5. Women made up 69% of people (119,577) in permanent residential aged care, and this disparity increased with age.

At 30 June 2014, there were 263,788 government-funded aged care places across Australia-an increase of 3.5% from the previous year.

Three-quarters (189,283) of these places were in residential aged care, while the remaining 66,149 were in the Home Care Packages Programme.

In recent years, there has been a decline in the number of residential aged care facilities, while the overall number of places has increased. Between 30 June 2007 and 2014, the number of residential aged care facilities decreased by 6%, while the number of places increased by 13%.

Overall, there were 2,688 facilities providing residential aged care services at 30 June 2014, and 2,212 service outlets providing Home Care services.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.


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