Seniors snapshot

An AIHW report shows older Australians contribute significantly to the nation’s economic and social life and have overall good health.

Australia’s older population is made up of active contributors and is not a ‘burden on the community’ according to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The fourth Older Australia at a glance study found that people over 65 are a diverse group who contribute in many ways to the nation’s social and economic wellbeing.

Almost a quarter of all men and 13 per cent of women aged 65-69 still participate in the workforce and older Australians are heavily involved in community and family activities. Those aged 65-74 make up 13 per cent of primary carers for people with a disability.

The head of the Institute’s Ageing and Aged Care Unit, Ann Peut, said that overall, older Australians report good health.

“36 per cent of people over 65 say their health is excellent or very good and 32 per cent say it is good,” she said.

This is a slight increase on the first Older Australia report, based on a 1995 survey. Back then, 31 per cent of people reported excellent or very good health.

Not surprisingly, most health measures declined with age.

“We found 56 per cent of people who are 65 and over have at least one form of disability but this increases with age,” said Ms Peut.

“Once you get to the group of people who are 85 and over, 82 per cent of them have at least one disability.”

“But that does not necessarily mean that they need help or assistance with daily activities.”

Just under a quarter of people over 65 and 58 per cent of people over 85 need assistance with activities of daily living.

And while only six per cent of people over 65 live in a hospital or a nursing home, almost a quarter of those over 85 do.

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