• Print

The ageing population

How many people are there aged 70 or over in Australia?

At 30 June 2012, there were 2,196,700 persons aged 70 or over, including 979,400 males and 1,217,300 females.

How is the proportion of the Australian population aged 70 or over changing?

Between 30 June 2000 and 30 June 2012 the proportion of women over 70 years increased from 10.2% to 10.7% of the female population. For men, the  increase was from 7.5% to 8.7% of the male population. This represents an increase of 505,200 people aged over 70.

Source: ABS. Australian demographic statistics. cat no. 3101.0, released December 2012.

What was the life expectancy of Australian men and women aged 65 in 2010?

Based on the latest mortality rates, a man aged 65 in 2011 could expect to live to around 84 years  and a woman aged 65 in 2010 could expect to live to around 87 years.

Source: ABS. Gender Indicators Australia. cat. no. 4125, released August 2013.

Aged care

How can I contact an aged care provider?

The Department of Health has published information on approved providers and aged care places, including by state and territory, at:

How many residential aged care places are there?

At 30 June 2012 there were 252,890 operational aged care places—an increase of 46% since June 2002 (172,700 places).

Source: Residential aged care and aged care packages in the community 2011-12.

Who operated residential aged care services?

At 30 June 2012, 59% of residential aged care services were operated by not for profit organisations, 11% were operated by local and state government, and 30% were privately run.

What was the mix of high-care and low-care permanent residents?

At 30 June 2012, 80% of permanent residents were high care and 20% were low care.

Source: Residential aged care and aged care packages in the community 2011-12 (supplementary tables)

How many Australian Government-funded aged care packages were available in the community?

At 30 June 2012, there were:

  • 47,221 Community Aged Care Packages (CACP) (low-care)
  • 8,503 Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) packages (high-care)
  • 4,180 Extended Aged Care at Home Dementia (EACHD) packages (high-care)

This makes a total of 59,904 packages (includes 703 packages provided by Multi-purpose services and services funded under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program)

Source: Residential aged care and aged care packages in the community 2011-12.

How many mainstream outlets provided packages?

At 30 June 2012, there were 1,233 CACP outlets, 507 EACH outlets and 355 EACHD outlets.

Who operated community care outlets?

CACP: 77% not for profit, 16% state and local government and 8% private.

EACH: 86% not for profit, 5% state and local government and 9% private.

EACHD: 90% not for profit, 3% state and local government and 7% private.

What proportion of aged care package recipients had a carer?

At 30 June 2012:

  • 85% of EACH recipients had a carer.
  • 89% of EACHD recipients had a carer.

Source: Residential aged care and aged care packages in the community 2011-12 (supplementary tables).

Data on the number of CACP recipients with a carer are not routinely collected in the Department of Health's (Health's) Ageing and Aged Care data warehouse. In the 2008 CACP census, 58% of CACP recipients had a primary carer.

Source: DoHA 2008 Community Care Census.


What is dementia?

Dementia is not a single specific disease. It is an umbrella term describing a syndrome associated with more than 100 different diseases that are characterised by the impairment of brain function, including language, memory, perception, personality and cognitive skills.

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer disease, which accounts for about 50% to 75% of dementia cases worldwide. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia, accounting for about 20% to 30% of dementia cases. Vascular dementia is caused by cerebrovascular conditions (for example, a stroke). Whilst these two types are the most common forms of dementia there are many other kinds, including mixed dementia cases where a person may have more than one type of dementia.

A common misbelief is that dementia is a natural part of growing old. Dementia is not a natural part of ageing and can affect young people, although it is increasingly common with age and primarily affects older people.

How many people in Australia have dementia?

An estimated 298,000 Australians had dementia in 2011, almost all of whom were aged 75 or over. While projection methods vary, the number of people with dementia is estimated to reach almost 400,000 by 2020, and around 900,000 by 2050.

What causes dementia?

The causes of dementia are complex and are influenced by many factors acting in combination. The main risk factor for most types of dementia is advancing age. Research on risk factors has focused on the main types of dementia.

Risk factors for Alzheimer disease include:

  • a family history of the condition
  • Down syndrome, and
  • a common genetic polymorphism (the apolopoprotein E (APOE) Ɛ4 gene).

Vascular dementia risk factors include:

  • older age
  • stroke.

There are no definitive protective factors for dementia although many factors thought to protect against developing dementia have been identified. These include:

  • better cardiovascular health
  • maintaining physically, socially and cognitively active lifestyles throughout middle age, and
  • higher levels of education.

Is there a cure for dementia?

Currently, there is no known cure for dementia.

The progression of dementia is relatively similar regardless of the type of dementia. It is described in three stages: Mild/early-stage dementia, Moderate/middle-stage dementia and Severe/late-stage dementia. There are overlaps between these stages, and identifying the stage that a person is in can be very difficult. Generally, dementia symptoms including functional decline become more severe with each stage.

Early diagnosis for people with dementia is increasingly recognised as an important part of improving their lived experience. Benefits of early identification include:

  • optimisation of medical management
  • timely access to information, advice and support
  • time for people with dementia and their families to prepare to manage legal and financial affairs, care options and living arrangements, and
  • early eligibility to services and interventions which require a diagnosis.

Do people actually die of dementia?

Yes. In 2010, dementia was the third leading cause of death in Australia—an average of 25 people per day died from dementia.

Whilst the progressive and incurable nature of dementia is commonly accepted, the terminal nature of the disease is less acknowledged. Dementia is typically not recognised as a terminal condition by patients and their families, often resulting in situations where advanced care directives have not been developed whilst the person with dementia still has the capacity to participate in care planning decisions.

In addition, the limited recognition of dementia as a terminal illness can lead to prolonged aggressive medical management of the condition as opposed to a palliative care approach. There are a range of strategies and programs internationally and in Australia that are focused promoting pro-active case management to ensure people with dementia and their families are informed sufficiently to support advanced care planning.

More information about dementia

AIHW 2012. Dementia in Australia.

The Transition Care Program

What does the Transition Care Program do?

For many older people, a stay in hospital is accompanied by a deterioration in their functional capacity. Their previous level of physical functioning can be difficult to regain. The Transition Care Program (TCP) provides short-term care to older Australians directly after discharge from hospital. The package of services includes low-intensity therapy (such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy) and nursing support or personal care. Care is provided under the guidance/supervision of a case manager with medical support such a general practitioner overseeing care.

The Transition Care Program aims to improve recipients’ independence and functioning to an optimal level and to delay entry to residential care. At the same time it gives care recipients, their families and carers time to think about long-term care arrangements such as entering a community aged care program or residential aged care, if this is needed.

Are there any restrictions on entry into transition care?

Potential care recipients need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) while still in hospital as approved recipients must move directly from hospital to a care package.

The recipient must be assessed as otherwise eligible for at least low-level care, and must have completed any acute or subacute care, e.g. rehabilitation. They must be medically stable and ready for discharge at the time of assessment, and have the capacity to benefit from goal-oriented, time-limited and therapy-focused care necessary to:

  • complete their restorative process
  • optimise their functional capacity
  • assist in making long-term arrangements for their care.

How many people have been helped by transition care?

Since it started in 2005–06, the Transition Care Program has provided just over 60,500 episodes of care to nearly 52,000 older individuals, including nearly 20,300 to just over 18.000 people in 2010–11.

What were the results of the assistance in transition care?

Over the life of the program more than 60% of care recipients left transition care with an improved level of functioning with just over half returning to the community to live.

In 2010–11, nearly 1 in 2 (49%) care recipients returned to the community to live while another 1 in 5 (19%) moved into residential aged care. Around 1 in 4 care recipients were unable to complete their planned care because they needed to return to hospital (23%) or died (2%). Of those who completed their planned care in 2010–11, 3 in 4 had improved functional capacity at the end of their care episode.

Further information on the Transition Care Program

AIHW 2012. Older people leaving hospital: a statistical overview of the Transition Care Program 2009–10 and 2010–11.

In this section