Monday, 5 May 2008

More elderly Sydneysiders 'living in squalor'

University of Sydney professor John Snowdon says his team of psychiatrists have found 150 elderly people living in excessive dirtiness in inner city suburbs.

He says those figures mean between 500 and 1,000 people are in a similar position across the state.

Professor Snowdon says part of the reason behind the increase is the rise in dementia and the lack of services in some areas.

"The main clinical conditions leading to these sort of living conditions is either dementia, schizophrenia or alcoholism and we believe that a lot of the people have changes in their frontal lobes of their brains," he said.

He says more resources are needed to help those living in extreme squalor.

"When they have such severe problems with their thinking processes and are unable to work out what to do for themselves, yes, we believe that the community should intervene," he said.

The NSW Opposition is calling for the proper funding of forensic cleaners to deal with the rise in elderly people living in extreme squalor.

The Opposition's ageing spokesman, Andrew Constance, says the State Government has ignored the problem.

"They've turned their back at a time when they should ensure that funding is available for forensic cleaners to go in, backed up by much needed support services - be it mental health, home care, department of health and other services - to ensure that those people no longer fall through the cracks," he said.

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