In the next 30 years, Australia will see an unprecedented rise in the number of people aged over 85 years. In 2050, there will be 1.2 million more people aged over 85 than there are today, and the average older Australian will live five years longer than today. This equates to adding six million more years of care just for the increased number of over 85s and just to manage their increased life expectancy.
To put that in perspective, in 1952, 40 letters of congratulations were written for Australians turning 100. This year, 2,643 Australians will turn 100 and in 30 years the number of congratulatory letters written to Australians turning 100 will increase to 18,567. Maybe you will be one of these?
It is a big challenge for Australia to service this growing demand. Aging at home and living independently and in their own community is important to many people as they grow older but it is critical they have quality care options available to them. Much needed funding boosts for home-care packages and for vital building modifications have been recently announced by the Federal Government to help seniors stay living independently at home. An extra 20,000 home-care packages have been added in the past year, representing a 40 per cent increase. It is a good step however, it is not enough to confront the waiting list of almost 127,000 seniors who’ve applied for packages.
Some of us are fortunate to have our aging parents still with us, and all of us will eventually be requiring some form of support to help us through our later years. Supporting our elderly citizens now and into the future will require all of us to be informed, be involved in the conversation and to be part of the solution. Elderly people have the right to freedom of choice and autonomy, and we all should recognise, respect and act on this now.