New evidence - older Australians at risk

Media Release

Wednesday 10 February 2016

New evidence - older Australians at risk

New research today highlights the extent to which older Australians are experiencing ‘low wellbeing’. 

Thirty-six per cent of Australian pensioners live below the poverty line1, many in unsuitable accommodation. 

Alzheimer’s Australia has welcomed the landmark study by the Benevolent Society, The Index for Older Australians which nationally maps how older people are coping across a number of categories, including education, health, resources and housing (wealth).

With age being the overwhelming risk factor for dementia, a significant proportion of this group will be living with the condition. One in ten of those over 65, and three in ten over 85 will have dementia2

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Carol Bennett said, “we need to ensure that this significant proportion of the population are able to access the specialist dementia care and support services they need, as soon as possible, to improve their quality of life.

“Alzheimer’s Australia supports the Benevolent Society’s urgent call for a collaborative approach by government, not-for-profits, businesses and communities to address these issues, (such as the need for more affordable housing) to keep older people out of residential aged care for longer. 

“One good step we can take is to increase early diagnosis of dementia so we can better link people to the services and supports that can help to keep them living at home longer, in their communities where most people would prefer to be,” Ms Bennett said.

To improve the wellbeing of older Australians, Dementia Australia’s 2016-17 pre-budget submission also identified some other priority areas to be addressed including:

  • Improving public awareness of dementia to reduce stigma and social isolation that older people may experience when diagnosed 
  • Promoting risk reduction strategies about dementia to improve the health and wellbeing of older Australians 
  • Encouraging older Australians to get an early dementia diagnosis, to connect them to the supports and services they need sooner
  • A coordinated approach to post-diagnosis care and support
  • Initiatives to improve the quality of care for people with dementia 
  • End-of-life care to support the choices of people with end-stage dementia.

Read the full Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians here.

1Pensions at a Glance 2015: OECD and G20 indicators, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2015).
2Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Dementia in Australia.