4914.0.55.001 - Age Matters, Nov 2008  
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Image: Latest Findings


LATEST FINDINGS

A Profile of Carers in Australia
People With a Need For Assistance
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Health of Mature Age Workers


A PROFILE OF CARERS IN AUSTRALIA, 2008 (cat. no. 4448.0)

A Profile of Carers in Australia, 2008 provides an overview of the characteristics and activities of people who provide informal assistance to someone with a disability, long-term health condition or to older people (aged 60 years and over).

Carers were, on average, older than non-carers. The median age of the carer population aged 15 years and over was 48 years while for non-carers it was 40 years. In 2003, older people (aged 65 years and over) accounted for 18% of all carers aged 15 years and over and 24% of primary carers.

The need for assistance is highest at older ages, and much of the informal assistance provided to older people living at home is provided by husbands and wives, usually older themselves, and often with their own disabilities. Of people caring for someone in the same household, older carers accounted for 56% of those caring for other older people, 9% of carers of people aged 45–64 years and 2% of carers of people aged under 45 years. Some 83% of older primary carers who were living with the main person they assisted, were caring for their spouse.

In 2003, there were 454,000 carers aged 65 years and over, just over half (approximately 54%) were men. There were more carers in the younger end of the age range than the older, largely reflecting the distribution of the total population.
Older carers-2003
Graph: Older carers- 2003


Recipients of care

Of the 454,000 older carers, 63,000 were caring only for people living outside their own household. For the remaining 391,000 carers, invormation is available about the characteristics of the people they assisted within their household. Most carers assisting someone in the same household were caring for someone aged 65 years or over (81%), while 16% were caring for someone aged 45–64 years and 5% for someone aged less than 45 years. Most were assisting a spouse or partner (85%), the next largest group (7%) was those assisting an adult child (28,000 older carers).

Older primary carers

Older carers included 113,200 people — 5% of the older population — who were primary carers. There was no statistical difference between the proportion of older men and older women who were primary carers (4.5% compared with 5.1%). The number of older women who were primary carers was greater than the number of older men who were primary carers (65,400 compared with 47,700), since there are more women than men aged 65 years and over.

The vast majority of older primary carers (93%) lived with the main person they assisted, who was most often a husband, wife or partner (83%) and were most often themselves aged 65 years or over (85%). There was some difference between men and women: 76% of older female primary carers were caring for a spouse or partner, compared with 92% of men. Of women, 8% were caring for their adult child and 5% were caring for their parent. The two most common reasons for caring were that it was a family responsibility (52%) or that they could give better care (50%).

Half of older primary carers reported spending 40 hours or more actively caring or supervising. Women were more likely than men to report this many hours of caring (58% compared with 41%). Of older primary carers, 41% had cared for less than 5 years, 23% for 5–9 years, 13% for 10–14 years and 20% had been caring for 15 years or more. One-third of older primary carers felt satisfied as a result of the caring role. Older primary carers also reported negative effects such as frequently feeling weary or lacking in energy (30%).
Primary carers aged 65 years and over, duration of care—2003
Graph : Primary carers aged 65 years and over, duration of care—2003


Further details can be found in A Profile of Carers in Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 4448.0).

PEOPLE WITH A NEED FOR ASSISTANCE: A SNAPSHOT, 2006 (cat. no. 4445.0)

Disability affects about one in five Australians to varying degrees and in various ways. This can range from someone who has a mild hearing impairment that is overcome by the use of a hearing aid, to a person who cannot wash or dress without help. There is a strong relationship between age and disability. In general, as a person ages, they are more likely to need assistance with daily activities.

Whereas 18% of the general population was aged 60 or more years, 61% of the population who reported a need for assistance were aged 60 or more. In the population 80 years or older with a need for assistance, there are more than twice as many women as men, consistent with their greater life-expectancy. For both men and women, the largest number of people needing assistance was in the 80-84 age group and the smaller numbers in older age groups reflect the smaller overall populations in these groups.

Age distribution of people aged 60 years and over with a need for assistance
Graph: Age distribution of people aged 60 years and over with a need for assistance


Household relationships
For people aged 65 and over, those who reported a need for assistance were less likely to be living alone compared with their contemporaries who did not need assistance. It is likely that older people who need assistance move into cared accommodation if they do not have a partner to care for them. That said, across the total population, people with a need for assistance were twice as likely to be living alone compared with those who did not report a need for assistance.

Age distribution of people living alone

Graph: Age distribution of people living alone


Further details can be found in People with a Need for Assistance - A Snapshot, 2006 (cat. no. 4445.0).
NATIONAL SURVEY OF MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING: SUMMARY OF RESULTS, 2007 (cat. no. 4326.0)

The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing provides information on the prevalence of selected lifetime and 12-month mental disorders by three major disorder groups: Anxiety disorders (eg Social Phobia), Affective disorders (eg Depression) and Substance Use disorders (eg Alcohol Harmful Use).

The prevalence of 12-month mental disorders varies across age groups, with older persons experiencing lower rates of disorder. Approximately 15% of persons aged 65-85 had a 12-month mental disorder. This compares with more than a quarter (26%) of people aged 16-24 years and a similar proportion (25%) of people aged 25-34 years.
12-Month mental disorders(a) by age(b)
Graph:12-Month mental disorders(a) by age(b)


Among all age groups 12-month Anxiety disorders had the highest prevalence. The highest rate occurred in the 35-44 years age group (18%) and the lowest rate (4%) in the 75-85 years age group. Similarly, affective disorders were less prevalent among older persons compared with younger persons. It was extremely rare for older persons to have 12-month Substance Use disorders (ie the harmful use and/or dependence on alcohol and/or drugs).

12-month mental disorders(a) by major disorder group and age
Graph: 12-month mental disorders(a) by major disorder group and age


Further details can be found in the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007 (cat. no. 4326.0).


HEALTH OF MATURE AGE WORKERS IN AUSTRALIA: A SNAPSHOT, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4837.0.55.001)

Ill health can impact on a person's quality of life and their ability to participate productively in the labour force. The Health of Mature Age Workers in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05 compares the health characteristics of mature age workers (i.e. those aged 45–74 years) with people in the same age group who are not in the labour force, focusing in particular on National Health Priority Area (NHPA) conditions.

This age group was selected as the one which is most likely to contain people in the workforce who are considering the timing of their retirement.

In recent decades, life expectancy has been increasing, and people are remaining in the labour force longer. As people approach retirement age, their health is one of the factors that may influence decisions about their participation in the labour force.

Labour force participation rates are consistently lower for people with chronic conditions and as people age, they are more likely to have a chronic NHPA condition or injury. NHPAs are diseases and conditions chosen because of their significant contribution to the burden of disease and injury in Australia – arthritis or osteoporosis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, injury, mental health and obesity.

In 2004–05, persons aged 75 years had the highest average number (2.7) of NHPA conditions present within an age cohort compared with those aged 0–14 years (0.2).

Average number of NHPA conditions, 2004-05
Graph: Average number of NHPA conditions, 2004-05


Different profiles are evident when the prevalence of conditions and workforce participation are examined within the three ten-year age cohorts (between 45 and 74). In the 45–54 years age group it is more likely for people to be employed than not be in the labour force for each of the NHPA conditions, whereas for the 55–64 years age group, similar proportions were employed and not in the labour force. For those in the 65–74 years age group, most are no longer in the labour force.

Proportion of 45–74 year olds with NHPA conditions who were mature age workers, 2004–05
Graph: Proportion of 45–74 year olds with NHPA conditions who were mature age workers, 2004–05

Further details can be found in Health of Mature Age Workers in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4837.0.55.001).