Connection is Essential to Australia’s Longevity Boom

By: Mark McCrindle

Australia is undergoing a longevity boom, with people living longer and as the population ages.

Over the next 40 years the number of Australians aged 65+ will double and the number of Australians aged 85+ will more than triple. This shift sees a need for connection and community as well as a 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, there are 29 Australians in their working age (18 to 64) for ever Australian aged 85+. By 2064, this will decrease to 12 Australians in their working age for every Australian aged 85+.

In fact, the median age in Australia 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%) and the local shopping centre (50%) followed by the local community centre (49%), a local pub or club (46%) and the local church (33%).

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

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

The growing demand for aged care

Presently, Australians aged 65 and older account for about 40% of the nation’s total healthcare expenditure, a significant proportion given that they make up just 16% 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 its 2020-21 size. 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 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 that the 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 

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