Feature Article - Disability, ageing and carers
Feature article published in the Tasmanian Year Book, 2000 (1301.6)
Disability and ageing are factors that may influence a person’s need for support or assistance. Relatives and friends provide a major part of the assistance needed, while government, commercial and private non-profit sources provide additional support.
In Tasmania in 1998, 105,100 people had a disability (22.3% of the Tasmanian population), compared to 19.3% of the Australian population. Disability usually exists as a consequence of disease, disorder or injury. In 1998 in Australia and Tasmania, physical conditions, including musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis, were the most common cause of disability (85.3% and 89.0% respectively). However, 14.7% of people with a disability in Australia and 11.0% of people with a disability in Tasmania identified a mental or behavioural disorder as their main condition.
Self care, mobility and communication are fundamentally important activities underlying all aspects of everyday life. In Tasmania most people with a disability (77.5% of those with a disability or 17.3% of the Tasmanian population) were restricted in one or more of these core activities.
The rate of disability increased with age, from 6.6% for children aged 0-4 years to 90% for those aged 85 and over. While the proportion of males and females with a disability was similar in Tasmania (around 22%) it varied across age groups. Disability rates for males were higher for those who were young with 9,000 or 17.2% of all males with a disability in the 0-24 year age group. In comparison 4,800 or 9.1% of all females with a disability were in the 0-24 year age group. Disability rates were also higher for males approaching older age. Approximately 22% of all males with a disability were 60-69 years of age. In comparison 14.6% of all females with a disability were 60-69 years of age. The greater proportion of females in the older age groups, where disability rates are higher, affects the overall disability rates for females.
In 1998 in Tasmania, 60.3% of the 100,700 people with a disability living in households needed assistance to move around or go out, shower or dress, prepare meals, do housework, light property maintenance, paperwork or communicate. Most people in need of assistance received some help: 57.2% had their need fully met, and 38.9% partly met. However, there were 4.0% who felt their needs were not met at all.
Of the 92,300 persons with a disability aged 17 years and over living in households, 52.7% drive daily, while 13.4% always need to be driven.
In 1998, in Tasmania 61,900 people (13.1% of the total population) were aged 65 and over with 35,400 of this age group (57.2%) having a disability. Of those people aged 65 and over 31,200 (50%) needed assistance with at least one activity.
Of the 57,600 persons aged 65 years and over, living in households 43,300 (75.2%) received a government pension or allowance as their principal source of cash income, while 10,300 (17.9%) relied on superannuation or annuity, dividends or interest or other private income including child support or maintenance as their principal source of cash income.
In 1998 in Tasmania the main activities participated in away from home for those persons aged 65 years and over living in private dwellings were visits to family or friends (47.2%), church-related activities (11.5%), sport/physical recreation (10.1%), attending performing arts/arts craft group activity (8%) and going to a restaurant or club (6.9%).
In 1998 in Tasmania, there were 67,200 people who provided some assistance to those who needed help because of disability or ageing. The majority of these were female (55.7%).
Primary carers are those who provide most informal assistance with personal activities to a person with a disability and therefore caring plays a major part in their lives. In 1998, 23.7% (15,900) of all people providing assistance were primary carers, and most of these (66%) were female. Nearly 33.8% of all persons who were carers were over 55 years of age.
PRIMARY CARERS(a), Reason For Taking On Caring Role
|Could provide better care |
|Family responsibility |
|No other family or friends available or willing |
|Emotional obligation |
|Had no choice/alternative care unavailable |
|Other reason/not stated |
|All persons(b) |
(a) Aged 15 years and over.
(b) Total may be less than the sum of the components as carers may report more than one reason.
Source: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Summary Tables, Tasmania (Cat. no. 4430.6.40.001).