1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Long-term health conditions - 2007-08
Graph Image for Long-term health conditions - 2007-08

Source(s): ABS data available on request, 2007-08 National Health Survey


The proportion of people aged 65 years and over in Australia is projected to rise from 13% in 2006 to between 23% and 25% in 2056 (ABS 2008d). Increasing age is often associated with long-term health conditions, high rates of obesity, higher rates of disability and poorer self-assessed health status. Thus, as the population ages, the health of older people is likely to impact upon the overall health status of the Australian community.

In 2007-08, just over half (53%) of people aged 75 years and over suffered from arthritis, and one fifth (20%) had ischaemic heart disease. Another concern for older Australians is the proportion who are overweight or obese, which may arise due to sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. In 2007-08, three-quarters of people aged 65-74 years (75%) were considered to be overweight or obese.

The rate of disability among people aged 60 years and over is much higher than it is for younger age groups. This is further complicated by the fact that as people grow older the severity of their disability is likely to increase, particularly for those aged 75 years and over. Consequently, people in this age group are more likely to need assistance with activities in their personal life, such as health care, communication, meal preparation and mobility.

Many older people also have a caring role. In 2003, almost one quarter (24%) of men aged 75 years or over and 13% of women of the same age were carers (providing informal assistance to people with disabilities, long-term health conditions, or to those who were aged). One reason for the male carer rate being higher than the female rate in this age group may be that most older men are living with a spouse, who they may be caring for, whereas more older women have been widowed (ABS 2008e).

In addition, there is concern about the potential health costs of an ageing population. In 2009, the vast majority (96%) of people aged 75 years and over had seen a general practitioner in the last 12 months, and one quarter (25%) had been admitted to hospital (ABS 2010h). A large projected increase in the number of people aged 85 years or over living in Australia (from 322,000 people in 2006 to between 1.7 million and 3.1 million people in 2056) has implications for the provision of aged care facilities (ABS 2008d).


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