The Australian population is ageing. Just in case you are one of the very tiny percentage of the population who hasn’t heard, we expect that by 2050 the proportion of Australians over 65 will be double what it is today.
Successive versions of the Intergenerational Report produced by the Australian Treasury, and a series of high-profile pronouncements by state and federal politicians, have drummed into us some basic facts about Australians living longer and young people constituting a smaller percentage of the total population. Along the way they have managed to generate a little fear about what it is all going to mean.
But in many respects, the ageing of our population is something to celebrate. It reflects advances in our housing, nutrition and other basic living conditions; it is a product of advances in medical technologies; it reflects the strength of our primary health care system; and it is a positive outcome of public health measures that have progressively addressed premature deaths, from road traumas right through to preventable diseases.
However, the growing numbers of older people are just one part of the picture.