New research released by the COTA (Council on the Aging) Federation has revealed that a staggering percentage of NSW carers aged 50+ are grappling with greater financial stress and emotional burden than others in the community.

Detailed in the recently published third edition of the State of the Older Nation (SOTON) report, 32 percent of older carers in New South Wales are feeling insecure about their finances and being able to meet their needs throughout the rest of their life and 55 percent of people identifying as carers believing things are getting worse for them.

COTA NSW CEO Marika Kontellis said ‘The results of the State of the Older Nation report were alarming. We are particularly concerned about carers not engaged in paid work. A staggering half of NSW carers are not engaged in paid work – female carers are particularly vulnerable.’

‘I call on members of our community, employers and government, to consider how they themselves would respond it they were facing one of more of these circumstances;

  • Caring for a loved one on average 36 hours per week and either juggling paid work or not able to work and support yourself.
  • Not knowing if you will have a roof over your head.
  • Living on JobSeeker for an extended period of time. Women aged 55 to 64 are the biggest cohort receiving and staying on JobSeeker for an extended period of time.

These are the latest developments in the cost-of-living crisis for NSW carers and its grim,’ says Kontellis.

Deneale Ann Bagatella, 52 from the Central Coast is a self-identified carer for her elderly parents 86, ‘dad can’t hear, mum is going blind, but they live at home independently’. Deneale cares for her parents for 5-6 hours each day, she is receiving JobSeeker.

‘It’s been hard to get a job because of my age and I’m not tech-savvy. But mostly because of my physical disability’. Deneale has osteoporosis and arthritis, she was a support worker but since her illness diagnosis she hasn’t been able to find work in her field because she can no longer perform duties such as helping people into the car or shower. ‘Financially it’s hard, at the end of the day after I’ve paid rent, I have $190 leftover for a fortnight. I must be careful and savvy with my money. And my dad is going to pay for my rego when it comes up in June.’ Deneale tells us she has also been diagnosed with anxiety.

The SOTON report found that NSW carers spend on average 36 hours a week caring for loved ones.  Additionally, and more alarmingly, the SOTON report found respondents whose primary income is dependent on the Government’s Carer Allowance or Carer Payment are particularly vulnerable to housing distress.  At a national level, 14 percent of carers whose primary income is the carers allowance are worried about their risk of homelessness within the next 12 months.

‘The responsibility of ongoing care for a loved one who is elderly, chronically ill or has a disability is already an overwhelming financial, emotional and physical weight to carry, this is becoming further exacerbated by rising costs and fewer work opportunities for the 50+ cohort’ said Kontellis.

Echoing Kontellis’ sentiments, CEO of Carers NSW Elena Katrakis believes that in addition to increased financial support, undertaking research and finding solutions that enable carers to be included in the community and recognised as valuable candidates for paid positions can transform the state of play for older carers in NSW.

With more than 850,000 carers living in NSW, delivering the necessary support for them to provide sustainable care in the home is essential to alleviating pressure on an already overwhelmed health system and avoiding a decrease in economic productivity; a direct result of more carers being forced to reduce or withdraw from paid work to provide care.about:blank

The full SOTON report is available here.