Leaders of 45 local authorities have written an open letter warning that they are facing a growing crisis in care for the elderly.
Council leaders say there is not enough funding for elderly care
Writing in the Guardian, they say the increasing number of elderly people is not matched by adequate funding.
The leaders, from both city and rural authorities in England, say elderly care services are "teetering on the brink" and are "unsustainable".
The Department of Health says funding for adult care services has increased.
The letter says council resources are being "diverted away to meet the shortfall in spending on elderly care".
The services they provide range from meals on wheels and home helps to residential and dementia care.
"The council taxpayer, quite rightly, should not be asked to shoulder this burden alone," the letter says.
The leaders say the government must recognise the "true scale of the problem" and how it could affect "the most vulnerable in our society".
Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council and one of the signatories, said: "Ever growing numbers of elderly with ever greater complexity of cases, combined with a government grant that has failed to match that spent on other key services, means that services for the elderly are now teetering on the brink.
"Our priority has always been to support people to make sure they can live independently for longer, and with dignity. But this requires funding."
The Department of Health says it has made extra investment in adult care service which means many more people are getting the intensive support they need to continue to live at home.
Last month the Local Government Association warned that council services may have to be cut unless something is done about the growing cash crisis.
It said council tax payers in England and Wales are shouldering too much and businesses should take on more of the burden.
It added that free care for 370,000 elderly people could be dropped unless funding is boosted by 2009.