Councils and health trusts could save some £3bn by closer working and better preventative spending, the charity Counsel and Care has said.
It argues that “smarter” spending is an alternative to rushing to tighten eligibility criteria and increasing charges for care.
Counsel & Care chief executive Stephen Burke, left, said councils faced choices that would have long-term and potentially expensive consequences.
“With the care system in crisis and heading towards meltdown, urgent action is required to ensure that older people and their families and carers get the help they need,”he said.
“We recognise that councils are between a rock and a hard place.
“But cutting access to care and supporting fewer older people will only cost more in the long run.
“Older people will be left to struggle on their own and more will end up being admitted to expensive and often inappropriate hospital and residential care.
“Councils need to look at how they help older people and carers earlier, helping them to help themselves, plan ahead and make the best use of their own resources.
“If councils provide better advice and information, offer new technology and support for carers, and if they work with their health and housing partners, then billions could be saved while delivering better care. Planning properly for our ageing population has never been so important.”