4108.1 - Older People, New South Wales, 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/09/2004   
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September 17, 2004
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Snapshot of older people in NSW

Older people made up 13% of the state's population in 2003, according to a new snapshot of people in New South Wales aged 65 years and over jointly released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the NSW Department of Disability, Ageing and Home Care.

There were more older women (495,100) than men (394,400). This disparity increased with age, with women representing over two-thirds (69%) of people aged 85 years and over.

Older people live independent and active lives due to improved health and life expectancy and are involved in a wide range of social, leisure and community activities. In 2002, about 20% of all older people provided support to relatives, and a similar proportion volunteered in welfare and community activities. Grandparents provided care for 18% of all children aged 0-11 years.

Most older people reported having regular contact with family and friends, and many kept physically active by walking (19%), playing lawn bowls (6%), golf (6%), swimming (4%) and aerobics (4%). Almost two-thirds (65%) of older people attended cultural venues, including cinemas, libraries and botanic gardens.

Most older people continue to live in private households (94%), with around two-thirds living in family households, usually with their partner.

Although most older people experienced some sort of long-term health condition, in 2001 two-thirds of NSW older people rated their own health as good to excellent. More than 90% did not smoke or drink alcohol, or only consumed alcohol at a low risk level.

The most common long-term health conditions reported were eyesight problems (81%), arthritis (48%), hypertension (41%), other circulatory diseases (33%) and hearing problems (33%).

Most older people were retired and dependent on government benefits as their principal source of income. Older people had lower incomes than other age groups, although they tended to have higher assets through equity in dwellings, superannuation or other savings.

Virtually all pre-retired people had some superannuation. In 2002, older people had lower levels of household consumer debt and financial stress than other age groups.

More details are in Older People, New South Wales (cat. no. 4108.1).