New approaches needed for cash-strapped boomers

A new report shows most baby boomers are concerned about their ability to pay for future healthcare needs.

Recent calls for reform to health and aged care policy have been bolstered by a new report which shows that the majority of baby boomers are not financially prepared for retirement.

A Fujitsu survey of 6,000 people between the ages of 45 and 65 found that 45 per cent of Australia’s 5 million baby boomers are worried about their ability to pay for future healthcare needs.

According to the survey, almost 70 per cent of boomers believe they will rely on superannuation as their main source of income in old age.

But at the same time, two thirds of respondents felt that they did not have enough super.

The report recommends that policy focus more on preventive health, in-home long term care and assistive technology.

“There needs to be a real shift in focus from the acute sector to long term preventative health care that keeps people out of the system for longer,” said Fujitsu’s Health Industry Director, Jeff Smoot.

“Funding needs to be redirected. We need a more coordinated approach to healthcare delivery.”

The CEO of Aged Care Association Australia, Rod Young agreed that community care would help ease the pressure on traditional institutional models of care but said it needs to be properly administered and supported.

“We need to think about the housing options for older people as there is very little being done about this,” he said.

“The starting point is to educate people that they will not necessarily be best served in a stand-alone house in the future.”

“We need to start looking at congregate communities where people can age in place and have their needs met within the community over time.”

Mr Young also said that with predicted shortages in health workers, informal caregivers will require more support.

“A critical question is: ‘How do we get this carer group to be supportive of each other so they don’t become isolated?’”

“In Japan, the healthy ‘old old’ people are doing a lot of the health support for their colleagues,” said Mr Young.

“And in China there are enormous social supports for older people to go to the local park or the local village square where they can do aerobics and have social interaction.”

The survey continues on from a previous report into the future of aged care services which was released in 2007.

It found that while most baby boomers had high aspirations for their later years, 41 per cent thought their choices would be limited.

“Last year’s survey showed that there was a real lack of focus on superannuation and future healthcare requirements,” said Mr Smoot.

“The majority of people in this age group are still healthy and plan to spend their super on themselves. They were not very concerned about their ongoing healthcare.”

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