Oct 25, 2022

Population of elderly Australians expected to skyrocket

New research has suggested that the number of people over 65 is expected to grow by more than 50% in the next 20 years, implying the huge need for adequate aged care.

Demographers from the University of Melbourne, Dr Tom Wilson and Associate Professor Jeromey Temple, completed the study to provide insight into how Australia’s population will change in the near future. 

The study, ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research, projected that the Australian population aged 65 and over will grow to 6.66 million by 2041 from an estimated 4.31 million in 2021 – an increase of 54%.

With the population of people aged 85 and above also projected to increase from 534,000 in 2021 to 1.28 million by 2041 – an increase of 140%.

The study suggested the rapid projected increase in the 85 and overpopulation was due to a projection of people living longer and larger cohorts reaching the age of 85.

It is also expected that the centenarian population – those aged 100 and over – will grow at an even faster rate, increasing by 200% from 5,300 in 2021 to 15,900 by 2041.

Dr Wilson and Professor Temple’s study suggested the growth in the older population resulted from the bigger baby boom generation — born between 1946 and 1965 — entering the 85 and over age group.

The total population of Australia is projected to increase from 25.7 million in 2021 to 32.0 million by 2041.

According to last year’s census results, Australia’s population in all age groups is expected to grow, but the largest proportional growth is expected amongst older people.

Director of the Population Interventions Unit within the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Professor Tony Blakely, told the ABC that the presence of fewer diseases and better cures for those diseases were two major factors helping Australians reach old age.

“Cardiovascular disease is the poster child of how that has improved… Half of the decline is fewer people getting heart disease – they’re reducing saturated fat consumption, smoking,” he explained.

“The other half is they’re getting better at treating it.

“Lots of small things have been culminating — researching cardiovascular disease, reducing smoking rates, transferring to a Mediterranean diet — that’s a function of science discovery.”

Professor Blakely also answered the question: if people are living longer, are they living longer with poorer life quality?

“The answer is, it’s about the same,” he said.

“As we expand life expectancy, you’re also extending the number of years in good quality of health.”

Without changes to the aged care system to accommodate for this increase in future consumers, the sector may face more workforce shortages and skills gaps to meet this heightened demand for services – putting our older people at risk of not receiving adequate care or being able to access aged care.   

The aged care industry are also hoping tonight’s Federal Budget contributes to much needed reforms within the sector, as the Government’s Election promises suggested a large amount of resources would be pumped into the sector.

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