Too much money is being spent on residential care in Norfolk and not enough on helping people earlier, according to a new county council report.
The claim has been made as officials outlined a new strategy, to be debated next week, which they say will help people to live independently for longer.
The authority says that, although it increased its investment in social care this year, urgent reforms are needed because of the expected scale of future demand.
It estimates that the proportion of over 65s living in the county will rise faster than anywhere else in the region over the coming years, reaching nearly 30 per cent of the total population by 2031.
Over the same period, the number of people aged 85 and over is expected to soar by more than 75 per cent.
The new plan, called Promoting Independence, will be presented to the council’s adult social care committee when it meets for the first time since last month’s elections on Monday.
It calls for the council to work more closely with the NHS, other public bodies and voluntary groups to help people stay in their own homes for longer and provide greater support to help people keep living independently, even when they have complex health needs.
Committee chairman Bill Borrett said: “It’s good news that people are living longer. Inevitably, it will put more pressure on adult social care services, even though the council is spending more money than ever before.
“We’re spending more than we can afford on old-fashioned approaches such as residential care, which aren’t the best option for many people.
“Research shows that most people live happier, healthier lives if we can help them to live as independently as they can, for as long as possible.
“I want to face these challenges head on. I’m hoping that the committee will support our strategy.
“This is investing in services to help people stay independent and well, while ensuring we continue to care for the most vulnerable people.“