Index reveals biggest concern for older Australians

Assistance at home the biggest concern for older Australians, report finds.

Older Australians are most concerned about getting suitable assistance to remain at home and go about their everyday lives, according to a new assessment of wellbeing commissioned by The Benevolent Society.

And the activity that contributes most to wellbeing is volunteering.

The 2019 Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians (IWOA) was produced for The Benevolent Society by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) and shows the key triggers affecting the wellbeing of Australians aged 65-plus and the areas where low wellbeing is widespread and where extra support services are needed.

The index, first commissioned in 2015, assesses wellbeing across five key areas – education, resources, wealth and housing, functional ability and participation – using census and administrative data.

Dr Kirsty Nowlan, The Benevolent Society executive director of strategic engagement, research and advocacy, explained that there was a big gap in knowledge about the wellbeing of older Australians across Australia. “The index now gives evidence and insights to all service planners and providers,” she said.

The biggest driver of low wellbeing was a lack of support to go about everyday tasks. Also high on the list were superannuation shortfalls and rental costs. YourLifeChoices quarterly Retirement Affordability Index clearly shows that older Australians who rent face the toughest financial challenges.

Addressing the cry for help, The Benevolent Society report says: “This suggests that access to assistance services is becoming an increasingly important part of wellbeing for older people, alongside and closely connected to other factors such as housing affordability.

“This has implications for government provision and location of services, including the pressing need for additional Home Care Packages (at the appropriate level) for the growing cohort of older people needing assistance to remain at home.”

On the positive side, volunteers and people with higher levels of education reported high levels of wellbeing.

The report says: “Volunteering is a way for older people to make a contribution by participating socially and engaging in community life, and it has been argued that this not only improves morale, self-esteem and creates a larger social network, but also increases life satisfaction.”

While daily news reports focus on the cost of increasing life expectancy, The Benevolent Society report says older Australians are also part of the solution.

“It has been estimated that the economic benefits of mature age people (aged 45 and over) in the workforce are $27.4 billion per annum. In addition, the uncosted contribution of older Australians as carers of people with a disability and carers of grandchildren is $22 billion per annum and their contribution through volunteerism is valued at $16.3 billion per annum.”

The index shows that older people experiencing both the lowest and the highest levels of wellbeing live mainly in urban areas. Those with the highest levels of wellbeing live in urban and rural NSW and Victoria, while those with mid to low levels of wellbeing are especially found in remote areas of NSW and Queensland.

“The intergenerational reports from the Commonwealth Treasury highlight the increasing costs of providing services to an ageing population,” the report says, “including health costs, income support costs, costs of in-community care and aged care.

“This means that services need to be provided to older people in the most effective and efficient way possible. Being able to identify areas of low wellbeing for older people, and the factors contributing to low wellbeing in these areas … will allow governments to address any failures in the provision of core universal services to older people in areas of low wellbeing and to more finely target service provision such as community care services or low income support services.”

What has the greatest effect on your wellbeing? Do you agree with the top concerns and benefits in The Benevolent Society index?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    16th Jan 2019
    I manage quite well, with some aged care services. I choose not to have a car to drive. Being in the ACT I use public transport. However, every time there is a change to public transport it is a huge stress. The current Labor Legislative Assembly saying they did a survey and people are happy to walk further ( up to 800 metres) to reach transport, and wait longer. No. Nobody asked me those questions and I would not have agreed. There will be a new transport plan announced in a few months and it takes away many of the current convenient services. The other thing that is a bugbear is fewer public toilets. E.g. they took away several at one suburb and replaced it with one. In another new park by the lake, they opened it but without ANY public toilets yet. Never enough.
    24th Feb 2019
    when there are more distressed,poor and desrving persons around( like politicians of all level and categories)isn't it that we all should willingly,or unwillingly learn sacrificing to enable them to live comfortably?
    16th Jan 2019
    I manage okay. Having decent transport to access make a difference.The need for public toilets as one ages is an issue On the stress side waiting for extra help to do chores that I cannot waiting for NDIS help and the forms to fill in is stressful
    Old Geezer
    16th Jan 2019
    Ask your doctor as their is a key you can get to use locked disabled toilets.
    19th Jan 2019
    KB, what you mention is an utter disgrace and shows just what uncaring lot of Government we have and have had -- that don't give a hoot about anything but lining their own pockets.
    The way that the aged are ignored, both in their own homes AND particularly in the aged care homes is despicable.

    16th Jan 2019
    What worries me most is labor getting into power and bankrupting this nation
    High unemployment, low wages, housing crash, stock market crash . Scary
    Old Geezer
    16th Jan 2019
    I agree that is certainly a worry for our future generations as well. We can't afford a Labor government but people are too stupid to see it.
    16th Jan 2019
    So we're doing OK under the current Government? I don't think so! And none of the smaller parties have either the numbers or the sense to provide a decent outcome.
    16th Jan 2019
    17th Jan 2019
    Interesting but not surprising to note that the area where the housing is the most expensive is also the areas with the highest well being. Poorer areas are of course as expected to have the lowest well being. If we raise the quality of life for the poorer areas they can too have better well being, less need for assistance and contribute better to society.
    17th Jan 2019
    It always amazes me that all these so called surveys, are based in the Metropolitan areas of the respective states.
    Are we, the country folk, not included in the populace? Maybe, we should stop producing the food for your tables, let you rely upon home gardens, but, then again, you don't have enough room for your wheat to make a weeks supply of bread.
    Once again we have been left out. No wonder there are virtual ghost towns in the bush, farmers leaving their land and nothing done to help the producers who labour so long per day, to just keep you eating.
    17th Jan 2019
    Where I live in Qld there is no public housing earmarked for the elderly. Next door there are modernized timber frame dwellings and I am advised by the Council they are Dept of Housing.

    The people I have seen there are mostly Aboriginal, Nigerian, or Central European with poor English skills. I am pleased to be living in an old concrete dwelling next door where I share concrete walls with quiet neighbors. These Dept of Housing flats are full of people who make a huge rukus, there are noisy kids and loud talking people who run TV at full volume all day.
    It seems they have never held a lease in their lives and anyone on a lease is disadvantaged when these flats become available

    They get flats over a single age pensioner, because they are sharing with a relative or have kids or manage their lives badly.

    There needs to be special accommodation for age pensioners who have come to the end of their super and are sensible enough not to be down and out when they are in poor health. The living environment an age pensioner requires, is quite different to that of a person who is well enough for full time employment.

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