4108.1 - Older People, New South Wales, 2000  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/03/2000   
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March 15, 2000
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

ABS: NSW older population - their story

Just over one third of Australia's older people live in NSW. According to a report released jointly today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the NSW Ageing and Disability Department, there are over 800,000 older people in NSW and the number will grow. By 2021 there are likely to be 1.3 million older people.

In 1998 about one in eight people in NSW was aged 65 and over, but in some are as the ratio was higher. In Great Lakes and Tweed Heads, for example, one in four people was 65 and over. Within the older population there are more women than men. 56% of older people were women and this increased to 70% for people aged 85 and over.

Two thirds of older people continued to live in family households (usually with their partner) and just over one in four lived alone. As people age, they are more likely to live in cared accommodation - 33% of people aged 85 and over compared with only 1% of those 65-74. Three-quarters of older people relied on government pensions and benefits as their main source of income, whereas only 1 in 10 relied on superannuation. They usually owned their own home and most continued to live in separate houses rather than in flats or semi-detached homes.

Older people live independent, active and healthy lives and are involved in a wide range of social, leisure and community activities. Compared with other age groups they have more free time and in 1997 spent about 6.5 hours per day on leisure activities ranging from reading and watching TV to sport. In 1995 over 100,000 older people provided 24 million hours of voluntary work to the community. Older people play an important role as carers, often looking after grandchildren, people with disabilities and other older people.

Older people are generally healthy with 2 in 3 rating their health as good to excellent and they are keen to maintain their health with over half exercising regularly. Over half did not consume alcohol and only 12% smoked. However, most experienced some sort of health condition. Apart from sight problems, the most common on-going conditions were arthritis (52%) and hypertension (39%). Older people aged 65 and over were more likely to be killed as pedestrians than any other age group.

Further details can be found in Older People, New South Wales (cat. no. 4108.1) available in ABS bookshops in capital cities.