When people think of aged care, understandably most people imagine that the residents are all elderly, most with grey hair, some with glasses, some with mobility difficulties. But what the general public may not be aware of is the amount of young people that are living in aged care.

There are more than 6000 young Australians with disabilities living in aged care. Aged below 59, with some being as young as 17 or 18, many of these people are living in a facility due to stroke, an accident or degenerative diseases.

These younger people are unable to stay in their own homes for a number of reasons, one of the most common being that their families are unable to offer them the necessary round the clock care that is required of their condition.

It’s a difficult decision and process putting a younger person into aged care. Research has shown that living long-term in a nursing home can lead to decline in the emotional, physical and mental health of younger people.

It can also become very socially alienating for them, being away from people their own age. In some cases, these younger people can become cut off from old social connections (such as friends, extended family and former co-workers).

Aged care is designed for older people – with many of the residents in their 80s and 90s. Though facilities do offer everyone the necessities of shelter and food, the health requirements of younger people is very different to those later in life.

When it comes to younger people, aged care cannot offer them the multidisciplinary health, rehabilitation and disability support that they require.

If this is the case, then why do they live in aged care? Simply because there is no where else for them to go.

There aren’t facilities dedicated to specifically to younger people the way it is offered for the elderly.

Funding and finances are also a big hurdle for younger Australians needing care. To live in a nursing home, young people still have to undergo income and assets assessments for government assistance.

Keep in mind, as these people are younger they have not had the opportunity to amass savings and assets in the same way many older people have.

The vast majority of these younger people are eligible for the National Disability Insurance­ Scheme (NDIS) which is government funded and offered to people under the age of 65.
The NDIS currently has $22 billion at their disposal, of which it is estimated that the young people in aged care would only use about $1.2 billion.

However, it’s been reported that less than 10 per cent of them have been enrolled into the scheme so far.

One of the biggest complaints with the NDIS so far is that the roll out has been too slow. Many people in aged care, who are eligible and in need now, will not be included in the scheme for another few years.

What has your experience with the NDIS been?

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