Mental & social wellbeing

Healthy ageing involves more than just promoting good physical health. Social and mental wellbeing are also important determinants for a high-quality life into older age.

Staying mentally active

Staying mentally active throughout life can help maintain cognitive functioning, mental wellbeing, and promote independence into older age. Continued learning is highly encouraged for older Australians:

  • In 2016, more than 21,000 people aged 65 and over were enrolled in a full-time or part-time educational course [3].
  • Around 13% (468,050 people) of people aged 65 years and over were engaged in employment, education or training in 2016 [3].
  • In 2012, around 43% of men and 61% of women aged 65 and over reported reading books 3 or more times a week [6]. Cognitive activities such as reading, writing and doing puzzles help participants to keep mentally active.

Social engagement

Older Australians tend to have regular social engagement. In 2014, 63% of people aged 65 and over had contact with people outside their household at least once a week, including 19% who had daily contact [1].

According to the 2015 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, almost all (94%) older Australians reported that they had someone outside the household who could support them in a time of crisis. The most commonly reported relationship to the person living outside the household who would provide support was a family member (84%), followed by a friend (54%) or neighbour (37%) [4].

Social engagement through community groups, sports, societies and volunteering can also help to strengthen and expand these social networks. For more information on volunteering, see Civic and social participation.

References

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2015. General Social Survey: summary results, Australia, 2014. ABS cat. no. 4159.0. Canberra: ABS.
  2. ABS 2015. National Health Survey: first results, 2014–15. ABS cat. no. 4364.0. Canberra: ABS.
  3. ABS 2016. Census, unpublished data generated using ABS TableBuilder. Canberra: ABS.
  4. ABS 2016. Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers: summary of findings, Australia, 2015. ABS cat. no. 4430.0. Canberra: ABS.
  5. Holt-Lunstad JST, Layton JB 2010. Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta analytic review. PLos Medicine 7.
  6. Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (MIoAEaS) 2015. The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey: selected findings from waves 1 to 12. Melbourne: MIoAEaS.