Older Australians - productive and living longer

Older Australians are living longer and productive lives and are making a valuable contribution to the Australian community.

Australian men and women at 65 years of age can expect, on average, to live for another 17 and 20 years respectively - an increase of about 6 years more than in the early 1900s.

These facts and more can be found in a joint Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing report Older Australia at a Glance released today in Perth at the International Federation of Ageing's 6th Global Conference.

The number of older volunteers has increased considerably over the 5 years to 2000, particularly among those aged 55-64 and 75 and over, with increases of around 50% in these groups.

Additionally, about one-fifth of people caring for those with a disability are aged 65 or more.

Head of the AIHW's Ageing and Aged Care Unit, Anne Jenkins, said that labour force participation rates for older women have increased substantially in the last decade.

'In particular, work force participation for women aged 55-59 increased from 33% to 49%, and for women aged 60-64 it increased from 16% to 25% between 1988 and 2001,' Dr Jenkins said.

'For older men, the general picture was more stable, remaining at 73% for men aged 55-59. For those aged 60-64, participation declined from 51% to 46% in the 1990s, but has begun to increase in more recent years. '

'Older Australians also continue to participate in education-including higher education.

'Generally speaking, older Australians continue to make a valuable contribution to the community through work and social activity.

'And contrary to general public perceptions, the vast majority of older Australians still live at home - about 7% of women and 3% of men live in residential aged care.'

Older Australia at a Glance (third edition) includes information on: population ageing, the health and wellbeing of older Australians, their contribution in providing care to the community, and their use of health and aged care services. It also looks at retirement, income and housing, and many other aspects of life among older Australians, and examines government responses to their needs.

29 October 2002


Further information: Dr Anne Jenkins, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1108, or 0409 307 671, or Dr Diane Gibson, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1190
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032