ELDERLY Bendigo residents living at home experience similar difficulties to those in rural and smaller regional areas across Victoria, aged care services advocates say.
A new report has revealed long waiting lists, a lack of care options, and a lack of clear easily accessible information challenge rural and regional over 65s seeking support to live at home.
Its lead author said it was critical elderly people accesses services early, to maintain their independence longer.
Bendigo aged care services advocate Ruth Hosking named choice, information and planning among the challenges for older people seeking to remain at home.
These were reflected in the report into empowering older people into accessing aged care services from LaTrobe's John Richards Centre for Rural Aging Research.
Mrs Hosking said Bendigo residents had a choice of service providers, but many of those in smaller towns nearby did not.
She said a lack of internet skills often made it difficult for older people to access information.
Long waiting lists for in home support services often took people seeking care by surprise, meaning it was imperative to plan for the future, Mrs Hosking said.
Mrs Hosking said living in the community was more satisfying for more older people than aged care homes, so it was important to support that. She said it was important to get help - or plan for it - earlier, rather than putting it off.
The study's lead author Professor Irene Blackberry said it was important people could access help and support earlier, because it let them live independently for longer.
Professor Blackberry said 97 per cent of older people lived in the community, it was where the bulk of aged care services were delivered, but little was known about people's experience.
She said robust evidence of experience on the ground was necessary to influence policy.
The study found a "thin" market in rural areas, with few service providers, meaning often older people had to put up with poor service.
It also found people in these areas had to wait a long time to receive their government home support program.
Information was hard to come by for many, either online, or provide in overwhelming amounts, much of it irrelevant.
Professor Blackberry said many older people put off accessing support services because they didn't want to be a burden.
This meant they needed services of a higher level, and faced long waiting times, when they did access services, she said.
She said the study's participants felt a local independent aged care coordinator would help them access information.
For support, contact Ruth Hosking on 0434 466 381.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.