We were excited to launch the inaugural COTA State of the (Older) Nation report last week in Parliament House in Canberra.
The land mark report has found the majority of older Australians feel a decade younger than their current age, overwhelmingly support assisted dying legislation, and nearly half feel less valued by society than when they were younger.
Access to health services and the rising cost of living were also raised as key issues in the report, particularly for vulnerable older Australians.
Highlights of the report include:
- 80% of older Australians feel younger than their age
- 46% feel less valued than when they were younger
- Health is the number one factor that impacts whether older Australians have a high or low quality of life
- 84% support legislation for assisted dying
- More than a quarter (28%) of those in paid employment want more paid work but 1 in 5 have experienced employment-related age discrimination
- 29% of working older Australians don’t expect they will ever retire
- 12% are struggling with overdue bills
- More than half of older Australians undertake unpaid work in an average week, including volunteering and caring for family and friends
- Only one in five (19%) older Australians feel valued as a voter
- Dental services were identified as the most difficult to access for older Australians.
The report found nearly half (49%) of Australians aged 50 and over, including 56% of Australians over 65, live with at least one high vulnerability indicator such as unemployment, having a household income of less than $30,000 per year or living with a disability. This group is less likely to eat healthy meals or have money to spend on leisure or social activities, leading to a degree of social isolation.
Nearly a third of our population is aged 50 or over.
The report quantifies the key issues for older people around Australia in relation to employment, age discrimination, cost of living, financial security, health, home and aged care, housing, later life planning, consumer rights and transport.
It tells us that most older Australians believe they have a good quality of life. However, it also identifies a significant number of older people who are telling us they’re not coping with the rising cost of living – many of whom are renting and facing challenges to pay bills.
This group feels left behind or discriminated against, and action is urgently needed, particularly to address the needs of vulnerable older people.
COTA has called on all sides of politics to commit to a long-term national strategy to address the needs of older people – including increasing rent assistance by 40%, taking a whole-of-government approach to services for older people, and improving access to oral and dental health services for older people.