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SUMMARY OF TOPICS AND MAIN FINDINGS
CHAPTER TWO: LIVING ARRANGEMENTS AND CARE
Summary of Topics
Living arrangements of the older population - provides overview of the living arrangements of older people highlighting differences according to age and sex.
Extended family relationships - examines the varying compositions of households in which older people live, includes sections focussing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and overseas born older people.
Couple families - presents information on older couples including marital status and whether they have children living with them.
People living alone - examines trends in the number, proportion and characteristics of older people living alone.
Older people with disabilities - provides information regarding the living arrangements of older people with disabilities including trends in cared accommodation and community based care.
Older people as carers - focuses on the provision of care by older people, including information such as their relationship to the recipient and the amount time they spend caring.
In 1996, 63% of older people were living in family households, mostly with their partners. Just over one-quarter (28%) of all older people lived alone.
As people grow older their living arrangements may be influenced by a number of factors associated with ageing, such as the death of a spouse, or the need for care resulting from increasing illness or disability. Accordingly, people aged 85 and over were more likely than those aged 65-84 to live in cared accommodation (32% and 4%, respectively), or alone (33% and 27%).
In addition to those older people who require care and assistance from others, many are actively involved as carers themselves. In 1998, around one in six carers (401,000 people) were aged 65 and over; the majority of these (69%) were caring for their partner. Of the 96,700 older people who were primary carers, almost two-thirds (62%) were women.
CHAPTER THREE: HEALTH AND DISABILITY
Summary of Topics
Health status - examines the health status of older people including recent and long-term conditions, mental illness and disability.
Health behaviours - provides information regarding the health behaviours of older people focussing on nutrition, exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption and preventative health actions.
Mortality trends - examines death rates as well as trends in the leading causes of death for older men and women.
As people age they become more vulnerable to ill-health. In 1995, 90% of older people had experienced a recent illness, and virtually all (99%) reported at least one long-term health condition. Hypertension and heart disease were commonly reported recent illnesses, while the most common long-term conditions were sight and hearing loss. Arthritis had affected half (50%) of all older people either recently or in the long-term.
In 1995, 57% of older people reported that they exercised, mainly through less vigorous activities such as walking. Although older people were less likely to exercise and more likely to be overweight than younger people, they were less likely to smoke or consume hazardous amounts of alcohol. In 1998, heart disease and cancer remained the leading causes of death among older people.
CHAPTER FOUR: ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
Summary of Topics
Labour force participation - discusses recent trends in the labour force participation of older people by age and sex.
Paid work - summarises information regarding the employment of older people, includes sections on full- and part-time employment and unemployment.
Income and expenditure - examines the level and sources of income of older people including government pensions and superannuation, compares the final income (after addition of benefits and subtraction of taxes) of various age groups and provides information regarding the older people's use of Medicare services and contribution to private health insurance.
Major changes occur in the sources and level of income as people grow older. The declining labour force participation of older people contributes significantly to these changes. In 1998, 6% of older people were in the labour force, compared with 33% of those aged 60-64 and 59% of those aged 55-59.
Average income falls markedly with age. In 1996-97, government pensions and allowances were the principal source of income for almost three-quarters (74%) of all income units(a) where the reference person was aged 65 and over. Superannuation was the principal source of income for just 9% of these income units. Between 1986 and 1997 the proportion of people aged 45 and over holding superannuation coverage at retirement rose from 35% to 58%.
CHAPTER FIVE: PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
Summary of Topics
Private dwellings - examines the housing characteristics of older people living in private dwellings including the dwelling structure, tenure type and housing costs/affordability.
Other types of accommodation - focuses on those older people who live in self-care accommodation (within retirement villages) and those in non-private dwellings where care may be provided.
Housing of Indigenous people - provides an overview of the housing characteristics of older Indigenous people.
Adequacy of housing - examines information such as number of bedrooms, accommodation modifications and the need to move house due to frailty or disability.
Appliances and safety devices in the home - summarises information on the use of labour saving and fire safety devices in the homes of older people.
Safety of older people - discusses perceptions of safety among older people and provides information regarding rates of crime victimisation among this group.
In 1996, 70% of all older people lived in separate houses and 17% were in semidetached dwellings, flats, units and apartments. In addition, around 3% of older people lived in self-care accommodation in retirement villages. Overall, 7% of older people lived in non-private dwellings such as nursing homes and other forms of cared accommodation; this increased rapidly among the very old to 31% of people aged 85-94 and 58% of those aged 95 and over.
Older people have higher rates of home ownership than younger people, with around 80% owning their home outright. As a result, in 1997-98 housing costs for older households were generally much lower than those for all households.
Older people are less likely to be victims of personal crime than younger people, although they do not always feel safe.
CHAPTER SIX: ACTIVITIES AND LIFESTYLES
Summary of Topics
Summary of activities - presents information on the amount of time spent by older people on their main activities.
People with a disability - analyses the time which older people with varying levels of restriction spent on main activities.
Domestic activities - examines older people's patterns of domestic work including variations according to sex, living arrangements and use of domestic services.
Social and community activities - provides information on time spent alone and with others as well as a range of activities including voluntary work, child care, cultural activities and sports and physical activities.
Travel - examines both domestic and international travel undertaken by older people.
Education - presents information regarding the educational attainment of older people as well as their participation in post-school education.
Use of new electronic technologies - examines older people's use of a range of technologies including electronic banking, home computers and the Internet.
Older people contribute to community and society through voluntary work for welfare and community organisations, child care for grandchildren and other forms of caring. In 1997, older people spent around 30% of their waking hours on unpaid work, comprising domestic activities, shopping, child care and voluntary work.
In 1997, older women spent more than twice as much time as men on housework, although this pattern was reversed for other household work such as grounds care and home maintenance. Nearly one-third (30%) of older people purchased at least one domestic service (during a two-week reference period) with gardening assistance being the most common.
In the 12 months to June 1999, 42% of older men and 33% of older women participated in some form of sport or physical activity, with walking and lawn bowls being the most popular. Older people attended cultural venues such as the cinema (36%), library (34%), and the botanic gardens (27%).
The current generation of older people has relatively low rates of use of electronic technologies such as personal computers, the Internet and electronic finance services.
KEY STATISTICS AND INDICATORS FOR OLDER PEOPLE, National and State Summary
KEY STATISTICS AND INDICATORS FOR OLDER PEOPLE, National and State Summary continued
KEY STATISTICS AND INDICATORS FOR OLDER PEOPLE, Annual Comparisons
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