Health care and ageing

We can help with the costs of your health care as you get older. We also offer support for carers.

Planning for aged care

Aged care doesn’t have to mean you stop being independent and active. If you plan for it in advance, you can make informed choices about what suits you. It’s important to find out what the options are and discuss them with your family.

You may be able to get help with the costs of:

  • living in an aged care home
  • getting aged care services in your own home.

Read more about thinking about aged care.

The amount of help you can get depends on:

  • your income and assets
  • the type of care you need.

Read more about the 5 steps to getting help with aged care.

Find out more about aged care options by visiting the myagedcare website.

You can use the home care fee and residential care fee estimators to work out your costs.

Staying healthy

Immunisations for older Australians

Immunisation is important at any age. If you’re older than 65, you should stay up to date with vaccines for:

  • the flu
  • shingles
  • measles, mumps and rubella
  • whooping cough
  • pneumococcal disease.

You may need other vaccines as well. Talk to your vaccination provider about your needs.

Your vaccination provider will record the vaccines you’ve had on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). The AIR is a national register that records vaccines given to people of all ages in Australia.

The National Immunisation Program and state and territory schemes cover the costs of many vaccines. Read more about immunisation for seniors on the Department of Health website.

Exercise for older Australians

It’s important to stay active as you get older. Exercise has many benefits including:

  • helping to lower your risk of some illnesses
  • helping to reduce your risk of injury from falls
  • helping to control your weight.

There are different types of exercises you can do. To learn more, read the physical activity guidelines for older adults on the healthdirect website.

Managing chronic medical conditions

A chronic condition is one that lasts for at least 6 months. This includes:

  • asthma
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • arthritis
  • cancer.

These conditions may need special care and attention. It’s important to get the help you need to treat and manage them.

Treatment plans with your GP

If you have a chronic condition, talk to your GP. They can:

  • identify your health care needs and treatment options
  • create a Chronic Disease Management Plan with you.

Your plan may include visits to allied health providers, such as a physiotherapist. If you’re eligible, you may be able to get Medicare benefits for these services.

If you have complex care needs and a chronic condition, your GP may create a Team Care Arrangements plan. This outlines the treatment you get from your GP and at least 2 other health professionals.

Read more about chronic disease management on the Department of Health website.

Incontinence management

If you have permanent and severe incontinence, the Continence Aids Payment Scheme can help with your costs. It’s a yearly payment to help you buy continence aids.

Read more about the Continence Aids Payment Scheme, including who can get it and how to apply.

If you have incontinence, you can talk to a registered health professional. They can help you with developing a continence management plan. It’s a good way to get help and strategies to manage your daily activities. This can include things like work, travel and exercise.

Your registered health professional can include any of the following:

  • general practitioner
  • continence nurse
  • registered nurse
  • physiotherapist
  • occupational therapist
  • Aboriginal health worker
  • medical specialist.

The National Continence Helpline is also available. It’s a free telephone advisory service staffed by a team of continence nurses. They can give you information and advice with bladder or bowel problems. Read more about it on the National Continence Helpline website.

You can also read about preventing and managing bladder and bowel problems on the Bladder and Bowel website.

Getting help for hearing loss

Hearing loss is a common part of getting older. You can reduce the impact by:

  • having your hearing tested if you notice any change
  • getting hearing aids when you need them, the sooner the better
  • learning how to use and look after them so they work properly.

The Hearing Services Program may cover some or all of the costs of your hearing aids. If you’re not eligible for the program, you may get lower cost aids through a hearing aid bank.

The Hearing Services Program on the Department of Health website tells you:

  • how to apply
  • how to find a hearing aid bank near you.

Getting help with health costs

There are different ways we can help you with your health care costs.

If you have a lot of out of hospital costs, the Medicare Safety Net can help keep them under control. If your costs for the year reach a threshold amount, we’ll pay more of your costs. 

We can also help with the costs of medicines. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) lowers the costs of many prescription medicines. The PBS Safety Net further lowers the costs of your medicines when you spend over a threshold amount. Read more about the ways we can help with medical costs.

We have concession cards that can help you get health care and medicines at a lower cost.

Pensioner Concession Card

You can use the Pensioner Concession Card to pay less for medicines and get help with hearing services. We’ll pay more of your costs when you reach a Medicare Safety Net threshold.

Read more about the Pensioner Concession Card.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

If you’ve reached Age Pension age, you may be able to get a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. There’s an income test to check if you can get it. You can use the card to get cheaper health care and medicines.

Read more about the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

Getting support as a carer

Caring for a family member is an important role. It can also be financially difficult. We may be able to offer income support payments through the following:

If you get Carer Payment and are almost age pension age, you may choose to get Age Pension. Read more about choosing between Carer Payment and Age Pension.

You can use the Carer Gateway website to find other kinds of support. This includes practical, social and emotional help.

Page last updated: 17 July 2019