ACT News

More than 60 per cent of senior Australians use aged care programs before they die: AIHW report

More than 60 per cent of senior Australians die in aged care programs with a further 75 per cent accessing services in the 12 months before their death, according to a new national report.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, which was released on Wednesday, found 116,500 Australians aged 65 years or older died during 2010-11 with women dying at an average age of 85.2 years compared with 81.5 years for men.

Justine Boland, who co-ordinates the Institute's community service department, said the report assessed the different ways older Australians accessed the aged-care system.

"A lot of these aged care programs stand alone so to be able to link them together gives us a better sense of the sector's diverse use," she said.

"Most people start by using community care but not everyone ends up using residential aged care, as community care tends to meet a lot of people's needs."

The report found residential aged care was the final program used by more than half of the deceased and a further 36 per cent passed away while receiving community care.


"It was fairly common for people to use only community care or both communities care and residential care in their last years of life," Ms Boland said.

The average age of death for those aged over 65 years was 83.4 years old with men more likely to die before women.

"Consistent with the greater longevity of women, the women tended to be older than the men when they died, with a mean age at death of 85.2 compared with 81.5 for men," the report said.

Those who did not access aged care services died six years earlier on average at 78 years old.

"It was interesting to see a sharp increase in the number of people taking up aged care in their last six months of their lives, especially for those in the middle of the age cohort," Ms Boland said.

The report found that 62 per cent of people studied were a client of an aged care program when they died.

"A further 18 per cent were split fairly evenly between those who had left aged care within 10 weeks of death and those who had not been in a care program for at least 10 weeks," the report said.

Ms Boland said about 10 per cent of seniors stopped using aged care services in the three months before their death with many possible explanations.

"Hospitalisation and use of specialist palliative care before death is the likely explanation for this phenomenon, with almost half of older people dying in hospital," she said. 

Ms Boland said the Institute would continue to study the different uses of the aged care system to inform government policy.