This paper examines how the relationships between the factors (predisposing, enabling and illness) of the 1973 Andersen framework and service use are influenced by changes in the caring role in older women of the 1921–26 cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Outcome variables were the use of three formal community support services: (a) nursing or community health services, (b) home-making services and (c) home maintenance services. Predictor variables were survey wave and the following carer characteristics: level of education, country of birth, age, area of residence, ability to manage on income, need for care, sleep difficulty and changes in caring role. Carer changes were a significant predictor of formal service use. Their inclusion did not attenuate the relationship between the Andersen framework factors and service use, but instead provided a more complete representation of carers' situations. Women were more likely to have used support services if they had changed into or out of co-resident caring or continued to provide co-resident care for a frail, ill or disabled person, needed care themselves, and reported sleep difficulties compared with women who did not provide care. These findings are important because they indicate that support services are particularly relevant to women who are changing their caring role and who are themselves in need of care.