Sep 11, 2023

New survey tackles public opinion on what ‘ageing well’ really means

Financial security is the top priority for Australians, until 65, when staying active and accessible health services become more important. [Source: Shutterstock]

Aged care provider Bolton Clarke has shed light on perceptions surrounding the ageing experience and the top priorities for ageing well in a new report that surveyed over 2000 Australians of all ages.

The Ageing Well Report 2023 is the first of its kind from Bolton Clarke, and they have uncovered several important themes after asking some impactful questions on ageing, including how Australians feel about ageing. And among all the findings, they have revealed that how we value older people and define ‘ageing well’ are both changing.

Key findings

  • Older people are less likely to agree that society in general respects older people
  • Financial security, staying active and [maintaining] relationships are the three top ageing priorities for Australians
  • One-third of respondents said Australia cares well for older people, however, older respondents were more likely to disagree with that statement
  • One in six people aged 55 and over want to see a new model of care for aged care

Younger people are the most optimistic about respect

When it comes to attitudes towards ageing and respect for older people, 58% of younger people aged between 25-34 said society respects the contribution of older people – the largest demographic group to say that.

Meanwhile, 91% of respondents believe society can learn from the experiences of older people, reflecting positive outcomes from Bolton Clarke’s very own Storytelling in Health Aged Care Research and Education (SHARE) program. School students work with retirement living and aged care residents to create joint stories that are shared in creative ways.

Westhaven resident John shared his thoughts on the program, stating he was pleasantly surprised to bond with a group of Year 7 boys.

“What amazed me with the five boys in my group was their liking for the outdoors and outdoor activities,” he said.

Letting down our elders

Sadly, people aged 55 and over are more likely to disagree about society’s treatment of older people. Just 25% of people aged between 25-34 held a negative view of how Australia cares for older people, yet that number jumped to 58% for people aged between 65-74 and 45% for people over 75. Many more had a neutral opinion.

graph BC2
Younger people are more likely to believe that aged care homes do a good job caring for people, with people aged 55+ more likely to disagree or feel as though a new model of care is required.

Opinions on residential aged care were slightly more evenly distributed as 68% of people agree that residential aged care homes do care about residents, although 42% also said more help is required to improve the quality of care. One in two people aged 75+ said more help is needed to improve care.

Another key topic approached by Bolton Clarke was funding in aged care, with the majority (56%) of respondents claiming aged care is not well funded in Australia. Older people were among those to disagree the most, and overall, just 4% of all respondents strongly agreed it was adequately funded.

Financial security is incredibly important

Although some priorities change as we grow older, most respondents listed financial security as the most important priority by age group. Ultimately, it appears that 65 is the time when financial security becomes less important, with a need to remain active and have clear access to health services far more beneficial.

graph BC
Priorities change with ageing. Financial security, staying active and health service access are among those that change for older people.

As for priorities within aged care or at home, 27% of respondents still living at home listed independence as their top priority, followed by security (16%) and location (12%). This reflects many desires to age well at home and within a community we know and love.

Priorities changed for residential aged care where 28% listed care as their most important concern, with independence (15%) and physical environment (14%) next. It shows that even though someone may live in an environment where others care for them, a certain level of independence is still crucial for enjoyment. 

New models of aged care are providing many of these services, with more aged care and retirement living options incorporating on-site gyms, restaurants, cafes, entertainment centres and intergenerational spaces for preschools. 

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