Connection is Essential to Australia’s Longevity Boom - Hope 103.2

Connection is Essential to Australia’s Longevity Boom

Australia's ageing population means a need for connection and community as well as skilled and dedicated aged care workers.

By Mark McCrindleMonday 15 Jan 2024NewsReading Time: 3 minutes

Australia is undergoing a longevity boom.

As the population ages, people also are living longer.

Over the next 40 years, the number of Australians aged 65+ will double.

The number of Australians aged 85+ will more than triple.

In response, there is a need for connection and community, alongside the remarkable surge in demand for a skilled and dedicated workforce within the aged care sector.

A demographic shift

The demographic makeup of Australia is undergoing a fundamental transformation.

Today, for every Australian aged 85 years or older, there are 29 Australians in their working age (18 to 64).

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By 2064, this will decrease to 12 Australians in their working age for every Australian aged 85+.

The median age in Australia also is poised to increase as fertility rates remain low, and life expectancy continues to rise.

By 2062-2063, Australia’s median age is projected to reach 43.

The importance of community

The importance of community is essential for every life stage, and especially as people age.

The most important community gathering places for Australians aged 60 and over are community parks or sports grounds (50 per cent) and the local shopping centre (50 per cent).

Other important community gathering places are local community centres (49 per cent), a local pub or club (46 per cent) and the local church (33 per cent).

Sources of meaningful and regular social connection and community for Australians, aged 60 and over, include the local neighbourhood (47 per cent), the household (44 per cent), volunteering or being involved with charities/community organisations (30 per cent), sporting activities (23 per cent) and religious or worship communities (17 per cent).

When thinking about what they were most likely to experience in a flourishing community they have been a part of, Australians aged 60 and over listed ease of conversation (58 per cent), laughing often and having fun together (52 per cent), inclusive and accepting of others (48 per cent), sharing and being generous with each other (44 per cent), and frequent communication and connection (42 per cent).

The growing demand for aged care

Australians aged 65 and older account for about 40 per cent of the nation’s total healthcare expenditure.

This is a significant proportion given they make up just 16 per cent of the population.

This stark contrast emphasises the need for a comprehensive evaluation of Australia’s care and support sector.

Looking to the future, the aged care sector faces both an enormous challenge and an opportunity.

By 2050, this sector is likely to necessitate a workforce twice the size it was in 2020-2021.

The potential doubling of the care and support workforce within the next 25 years presents not only promising employment prospects but also underscores the critical importance of strategic workforce planning.

The right skills, training pathways, and wages with the value of care work are vital to attract and retain workers in this sector.

Preparing for the ageing population

This demographic transformation offers potential for extended retirements and greater flexibility for seniors in the workforce or other meaningful activities, if they choose.

It also requires lifestyle and community design so that as people age, they feel connected and able to flourish in community.

As Australia stands at the threshold of this transformative demographic shift, it must adapt the healthcare systems, workplace policies, and societal structures to ensure opportunities presented by an ageing population outweigh the challenges.

The evolving face of Australia’s population is an opportunity to celebrate longevity and the contributions of older generations, requiring the nation to adapt to ensure a high quality of life for all.

Article supplied with thanks to McCrindle.

About the Author: McCrindle are a team of researchers and communications specialists who discover insights, and tell the story of Australians – what we do, and who we are.

Feature image: Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Unsplash