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How are older Australians faring in areas such as health, quality of life, cost of living and work? This was the focus of a survey commissioned by the Federation of nine Councils on the Ageing (COTA) across Australia, resulting in the State of the (Older) Nation 2018 report. 

Collating the survey results of 2,562 Australians aged 50 and over, the report gives an insight into the views, experiences and needs of our growing older population.

Feeling younger but less valued

A key statistic from the report was that 80 percent of those surveyed felt younger than their age – with more than half feeling at least 10 years younger. In fact, the survey showed that the older you get the younger you feel with the over 80s feeling 13 years younger, while the 50-59 year olds felt 9 years younger on average.

While 74 percent felt they had a lot to offer society gained through their life experiences, nearly half (46 percent) felt less valued by society than when they were younger.

Health is the number one concern for older Australians

When asked what they were most concerned or worried about at this point in their life, more than one-third (32 percent) mentioned health issues, closely followed by finance and the cost of living (27 percent).

Health was also a major factor in quality of life ratings – with good health or whether a person has any health problems having a direct impact on whether a respondent felt their quality of life was high or poor.

Despite this, more than half of those surveyed don’t do the Government-recommended amount of weekly exercise (30 minutes per day for those aged over 65) and more than one-third (36 percent) do less than one hour of exercise per week.

Financial security and cost of living

Responses around financial security and the cost of living was a mixed bag. While more than half feel secure about their finances, a similar percentage felt that the rising cost of living was leaving them behind. Twelve percent are struggling with overdue bills and 1 in 5 do not have money for leisure or social activities.

Working life

The study found that the expected age of retirement increases as household income level decreases. Those earning less than $30,000 expect to retire at 70, while those earning $100,000 or more expect to retire at 65.

Twenty-nine percent of working older Australians do not expect to ever retire, and this was more likely among those who rated their financial situation poorly.

Age discrimination is a common experience

One in three older Australians have experienced age discrimination of some kind and more than a fifth (22 percent) have experienced employment-related discrimination.

Vulnerability indicators

Delving into the statistics further, the report highlighted that more than one in two Australians aged over 50 are vulnerable, leading to a lower quality of life.

Factors that could indicate vulnerability include:

  • Having a low income
  • Living with a disability
  • Speaking a language other than English at home
  • Bereaved in the last year
  • Indigenous
  • Experienced domestic violence in the past year
  • Experienced homelessness in the last year

Those that fall into the vulnerable category, are also more likely to:

  • Be aged over 80 (62 percent)
  • Not have private health insurance (70 percent)
  • Live outside the capital cities (57 percent)
  • Be renting their home (68 percent)

 

COTA Australia CEO, Ian Yates said the results of the survey will be used to compile a long-term national strategy to address the needs of older Australians and advocate for a whole-of-government Ageing Strategy.

“COTA Australia is calling on all sides of politics to commit to a long-term national strategy to address the needs of older Australians – including increasing rent assistance by 40%; taking a whole-of-government approach to services for older Australians, and improving access to oral and dental health services for older Australians,” Mr Yates said.

To view the full report visit stateoftheoldernation.org.au

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Belinda Peters
Belinda brings more than 17 years experience in journalism to her role as Seasons Digital Content Writer. As our blog editor, Belinda will take the confusion out of aged care with entertaining and informative stories from across the aged care industry and our Seasons communities.