4430.0 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2018 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/10/2019   
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Older people

Australia’s population is continuing to age. Among the 24.7 million Australians in 2018, one in every six (15.9% or 3.9 million people) was aged 65 years and over, increasing from:

  • 15.1% in 2015
  • 14.3% in 2012
  • 13.3% in 2009 (or 2.9 million people).

This represents an estimated 35% increase in the number of older people between 2009 and 2018 (2.9 million to 3.9 million), compared with a 10% increase for those aged 0 to 64 years for this same time period (from 18.9 million to 20.8 million).

A higher proportion of females were aged 65 years and over (16.7%) than males (15.0%), with the difference increasing in older age groups:
  • 12.1% of women and 11.7% of men were aged 65-79 years
  • 4.6% of women and 3.3% of men were aged 80 years and over.

Proportion of Australians aged 65 years and over, by sex, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018
Graph shows that the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over has increased from 13.3% in 2009, to 15.9% in 2018.
Source(s): ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2018

Living arrangements

Most older people (95.3%) were living in households, with 4.6% (181,200 people) living in cared-accommodation. Of all older Australians:
  • men were more likely to be living in households (96.8%) compared with women (94.2%)
  • women living in households were almost twice as likely to live alone (33.7%) than men (18.1%)
  • the likelihood of living in cared-accommodation increased with age from 1.4% of people aged 65 to 79 years (similar to 2015) to 14.3% of people aged 80 years and over (a decrease from 16.1% in 2015)
  • two-thirds (67.2%) of those living in cared-accommodation were women.

Definitions:
Older people - people aged 65 years and over.
Living in households - persons who reside in a private dwelling or self-care retirement village
Cared-accommodation - includes hospitals, nursing homes, aged care hostels and other cared-accommodation. For more information see the Glossary.

Disability in older people

Although the number of older people in Australia has increased, the prevalence of disability in this population has remained stable (49.6% of older people in 2018 compared with 50.7% in 2015). Among older Australians with disability:
  • 35.4% had a profound or severe limitation, similar to 2015 (36.4%)
  • 15.0% had a moderate limitation, similar to 2015 (14.0%)
  • 40.1% had a mild limitation, similar to 2015 (39.5%).

Most older people living in cared-accommodation had disability (96.1%). Among older Australians with disability living in cared-accommodation:
  • more than three-quarters (76.9%) were aged 80 years and over
  • almost all (97.9%) had a profound or severe limitation.

Definitions:
Disability - defined as any limitation, restriction or impairment which restricts everyday activities and has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least six months. For more information see the Glossary.

Need for assistance

In 2018, among all older Australians, 38.0% (1.5 million people) needed assistance with everyday activities, similar to 2015 (38.6%). Older people were most likely to need assistance with:
  • health care (22.5%)
  • property maintenance (20.0%)
  • household chores (16.0%).

Overall, older women were more likely to need help with at least one activity (44.3%) compared with men (30.8%). Across all activities, older women reported a greater need for assistance than older men, especially with tasks such as:
  • mobility (17.8% of older women compared with 12.2% of older men)
  • property maintenance (23.9% of older women compared with 15.6% of older men)
  • household chores (21.1% of older women compared with 10.3% of older men).

Persons aged 65 years and over who needed assistance, activities for which assistance needed, by sex, 2018

Graph shows that of men and women aged 65 years and over who needed assistance, health care was the most common activity for which assistance was needed followed by property maintenance
Source(s): ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2018

Service use

Providers of assistance

Australians needing support may seek assistance from formal and/or informal providers for their various care needs. In 2018, of the 1.3 million older people living in households who needed assistance with everyday activities, the most common informal providers of help were their:

  • spouse/partner (33.8%)
  • daughter (21.4%) or son (17.2%).

The most common formal providers of assistance for older people living in households were:
  • private commercial organisations (37.5%)
  • government organisations (27.3%).

Activities for which assistance was received

Older Australians (living in households) needing assistance were most likely to receive informal help from family or friends with:
  • communication (90.9% of those needing help with this activity received help with this task from family or friends)
  • reading or writing (85.6% of those needing help with this activity received help with this task from family or friends).

Those receiving formal assistance from a government service or other organisation were most likely to receive help with:
  • health care (formal assistance received by 65.0% of those needing help with this activity)
  • household chores (formal assistance received by 51.6% of those needing help with this activity).

Persons aged 65 years and over(a) who needed assistance with specific activities, assistance received by provider type, 2018
Graph shows that people aged 65 years and over living in households who needed assistance were generally more likely to receive informal assistance with most activities except health care, for which 65.0% received formal assistance.
Footnote(s):
(a) Living in households
(b) Includes assistance from family, friends or neighbours
(c) Includes government, private non-profit and commercial organisations
Source(s): ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2018

Whether need for assistance was met

Older Australians who need assistance may not always receive the help they require. Of the 1.3 million older Australians living at home who needed assistance:
  • most (92.3%) received some help (formal and/or informal) with at least one of the activities they needed assistance with
  • almost two-thirds (65.9%) said their need for assistance was fully met, down from 69.2% in 2015
  • 31.0% said their need was partly met, up from 27.7% in 2015
  • 3.1% said their need was not met at all, the same as in 2015.

For older Australians (living in households) needing assistance, the tasks most likely to have been fully met were:
  • reading or writing tasks (91.8%)
  • meal preparation (90.2%)
  • communication (89.6%).

Assistance needs most likely not met at all were:
  • property maintenance (9.5%)
  • cognitive or emotional tasks (6.4%).

Persons aged 65 years and over who needed assistance(a) activities for which assistance needed, by whether need met, 2018
Graph shows that of people aged 65 and over needing assistance, most had their needs fully met. Those needing help with property maintenance were least likely to have their needs met, while those needing help with reading or writing were most likely
Footnote(s):
(a) Living in Households
Source(s): ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2018

Overall, the assistance needs of older men and women were equally likely to have been fully met (66.8% of men compared with 65.0% of women). However, when looking at the assistance received across specific activities, older women were:
  • more likely to have their needs for communication assistance fully met (91.2% of older women compared with 79.4% of older men)
  • less likely to have their needs fully met for reading or writing tasks (87.6% of older women compared with 93.7% of older men) and household chores (76.9% of older women compared with 83.9% of older men).

Definitions:
Informal assistance - refers to unpaid help or supervision provided by family, friends and neighbours and only includes help provided because of a person’s disability.
Formal assistance - refers to paid care provided by organisations or individuals. For more information on formal and informal assistance see the Glossary.


Main long-term health conditions of older Australians

Of the 3.9 million older Australians in 2018, almost nine in ten (86.5%) reported having one or more long-term health condition (the same as 2015). The likelihood of having at least one long-term health condition generally increased with age, with:
  • around four in every five (81.2%) people aged 65 to 74 years having at least one long term health condition
  • almost all (98.1%) of those aged 85 years and over having at least one long term health condition.

Main long-term health condition

In 2018, the most common main long-term health conditions among older people were:
  • arthritis and related conditions (15.6%), more common amongst older women (19.5%) than older men (11.2%)
  • hypertension (9.1%)
  • back problems (8.7%).

In 2018, the proportion of older Australians with a mental or behavioural condition, as a main long-term health condition, increased with age. This was largely due to rates of Dementia or Alzheimer’s increasing with age. This pattern was similar to 2015:
  • 0.7% of people aged 65 to 74 had Dementia/Alzheimer’s as their main condition (similar to 0.6% in 2015)
  • 3.6% of people aged 75 to 84 had Dementia/Alzheimer’s as their main condition (similar to 3.2% in 2015)
  • 12.6% of people aged 85 years or more had Dementia/Alzheimer’s as their main condition (similar to 11.6% in 2015).

Persons aged 65 years and over, mental and behavioural disorders as main long-term health condition, by age group, 2018
Graph shows that the proportion of people aged 65 and over who reported a mental or behavioural disorder as their main long-term condition increases with age. This is largely driven by increases in the prevalence of Dementia/Alzheimer's
Source(s): ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2018

Definitions:
Long-term health condition - a disease or disorder that has lasted, or is likely to last, for six months or more.
Main condition - the condition identified as causing the most problems. For more information see the Glossary.

Housing and income of older Australians

Housing tenure

Many older people have accumulated assets, such as their own home, to support their retirement. In 2018, for all older Australians living in households:

  • almost three-quarters (72.3%) owned their homes outright, similar to 2015 (71.7%)
  • one in ten (10.3%) had a mortgage, similar to 2015 (9.5%)
  • 12.0% rented their home, similar to 2015 (12.5%)
  • the remaining 5.4% lived rent free or had other housing arrangements, such as life tenure and shared equity schemes, similar to 2015 (6.3%).

Main source of income

In 2018, the main source of income for older Australians was:
  • government pension or allowance (56.9%), decreasing from 62.9% in 2015
  • superannuation, an annuity or private pension (20.6% ), increasing from 17.6% in 2015
  • wages or salary (8.2%), increasing from 6.9% in 2015.

Older people with disability were more likely to receive a government pension (68.3%) than older people without disability (46.6%).

Income level

In 2018, the median gross personal income of older people was $454 per week, increasing 6.8% from $425 in 2015. In comparison, the median gross income of people aged 15-64 years increased by 11.4% over this same time period (from $863 to $961).

Of those older Australians who reported their income:
  • two-thirds (68.1%) lived in a low income household (a household earning less than $756 per week), similar to 2015 (67.4%)
  • just 6.7% lived in a high income household (a household earning more than $1,680 per week).

Persons aged 15 years and over(a) - equivalised gross household income quintiles(b), by age group, 2018
Graph shows that people aged 65 and over were more likely to live in a household in the lowest two quintiles for equivalised gross household income. In contrast, those aged 15-64 tend to have higher representation in the three higher quintiles
Footnote(s):
(a) Living in households
(b) Excludes people whose household income was not known
(c) Includes households with nil income and households who reported no source of income
Source(s): ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings 2018

Definitions:
Equivalised gross household income – adjusts actual income to take into account the different needs of households of different size and composition, for more information see the Glossary.
Quintiles - ranking all households in ascending order according to household income and then dividing the population into five equal groups, each comprising 20% of the estimated population, for more information see the Glossary.

Social and community participation

Social participation

In 2018, almost all older Australians (living in households) had participated in social activities at home (97.4%) or outside their home (94.4%) in the previous 3 months. Common activities included:
  • telephone calls (92.2%) or visits (89.7%) from family or friends
  • visiting (86.8%) or going out (74.1%) with family or friends
  • sport or recreation with others (32.5%)
  • holidaying with others (27.9%).

Although older women were more likely to socialise in their home (98.2% compared with 96.4% of men), older men and women were equally likely to socialise away from home (94.6% and 93.9%).

Sport and physical activity

Of all older Australians (living in households) nearly half (48.8%) participated in physical activities for exercise or recreation in the previous 12 months, similar to 2015 (49.2%).
  • around one-quarter (21.7%) of men participated in sport, similar to 2015 (23.4%)
  • women's participation in sport remained stable (13.2% compared with 13.1% in 2015)
  • almost one-quarter of older Australians (23.3%) attended a sporting event as a spectator
  • men were more likely be a spectator at a sporting event than women (29.0% compared with 18.1%).

Cultural activities

In 2018, around three-quarters (76.6%) of all older people (living in households) had participated in one or more cultural activity in the previous 12 months, similar to 2015 (76.8%):
  • around half (49.2%) went to the movies, a concert, the theatre or a performing arts event
  • around one-quarter (24.2%) had been to a museum or art gallery.

Volunteering

In 2018, around one in six (17.8%) older Australians (living in households) had volunteered in the community in the previous 3 months, similar to 2015 (18.6%).

Definitions:
Social participation - refers to participation in social or physical activities in the 3 months prior to the survey, or participation in cultural or physical activities in the 12 months prior to the survey.


Results relating to 2015 data can be found in the 2015 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (ABS cat. no. 4430.0).