Older Australians are calling for any new policy announcements dealing with aged care to include far more substantive measures to ensure seniors receive adequate care and support in their own homes.

National Seniors chief executive, Michael O'Neill, says it's only natural that Australians want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.

"Even the best aged care facility is no substitute for the family home you might have lived in for 40 years or more. It also makes sense economically and medically - it's cheaper and contributes to overall wellbeing.

"Unfortunately, although policy makers recognise the benefits of ageing in place, current mechanisms fall short of what is really needed.

"As the population ages, Australia faces a crisis in aged care costs, and bed and staffing shortages. Government must develop practical measures to bring effective care to every person who needs assistance to remain in their own home," said O' Neill.

"National Seniors expects both parties to have something to say about aged care during this campaign," said O'Neill. "We hope the focus will be on long term strategies and programs."

"Any new announcements must deliver first class care direct into the homes of the elderly, and to provide sufficient funding to ensure adequate respite support for carers. The Coalition's pledge to fund practice nurse home visits for older Australians, last week, was certainly a welcome start," said O'Neill.

"We also need to put more money into exploring assistive technologies, particularly in how we can use the power of technology and the internet to monitor and assist the elderly at home. Even the simplest of low-cost assistive technologies - like grab rails and adaptive switches - can go a long way to helping seniors remain independent in the home.

"Just as important to making ageing at home a more pleasant experience will be measures designed to eliminate the social isolation experienced by so many house-bound older people.

"More than a third of all Australians over the age of 75 live alone, and three-quarters of those are women. Most of them are happy and getting along fine. And most of them want to stay exactly where they are.

"It makes sense to provide them with the money and facilities for them to do just that. The alternative is going to be funding a huge increase in beds in aged care facilities, at enormous cost to the taxpayer.

Measures designed to assist older Australians to remain in their own homes is one of several election demands made by National Seniors under the Seniors Vote 2007 banner.

Seniors Vote 2007, a campaign to get the concerns of the over-50s on the national agenda, includes grassroots and top level lobbying, and a speaker series across the country. With almost 300,000 members, National Seniors is the largest non-profit organisation for older Australians, and the fourth largest group of older people in the world.


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