According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017–18 National Health Survey, almost half (47%) of males aged 55–64 who had ever served in the ADF considered themselves to be in excellent or very good health; however, this dropped to 36% among males who had ever served in the ADF aged 75 and over. This was similar for males who had never served in the ADF (52% and 36%, respectively) (ABS 2019).
Nearly 2 in 5 (39%) males aged 75 and over who had ever served in the ADF considered their health to be fair or poor, compared with 31% of males of the same age who had never served in the ADF (ABS 2019).
In 2017–18, males aged 55 and over who had ever served in the ADF generally reported similar rates of chronic diseases as the non-serving population, including arthritis, back pain and problems, and diabetes. However, males aged 65–74 who had ever served in the ADF reported mental and behavioural conditions at a rate 10 percentage points higher than males aged 65–74 who had never served in the ADF (27% and 17%, respectively) (ABS 2019).
In 2017–18, over 1 million medications were dispensed to around 70,000 contemporary ex-serving ADF members of all ages (AIHW 2019a). Consistent with the increased likelihood of developing chronic diseases with age (ABS 2018), the rate of medication dispensing per member was found to increase with age:
- Contemporary ex-serving ADF members in older age-groups were dispensed more medications than younger age groups, with almost half (47%) of all medications dispensed to members aged 50–69. For males in this age group, medications relating to the cardiovascular system were the most commonly dispensed, accounting for over one-third (39%) of all dispensing for males aged 50-69 (AIHW 2019a).
- The rate of dispensing for contemporary ex-serving ADF members increased with age, with the rate for those aged 70 and over being 35 per person. This was nearly twice as high as the rate for those aged 50–69 (19 per person) and around 10 times the rate for those aged 17–30 (4 per person). This pattern is similar in age-matched rates within the Australian population (AIHW 2019a).
Between 2002 and 2015, rates of deaths due to any cause (all-cause mortality) for contemporary ex-serving ADF males aged 50–70 were almost half those of Australian males of the same age. In contrast, rates of all-cause mortality for contemporary ex-serving ADF males aged 16–29 were similar to those of Australian males of the same age. As expected, all-cause mortality rates increased with age (AIHW 2020) (Figure 2C.2).