Health and wellbeing of older Canberrans above national average

Older Canberrans walking

Older Canberrans are doing better than the national average when it comes to their health and wellbeing.

The Health and Wellbeing of Older Persons in the ACT Report provides an overview of the health and wellbeing of ACT’s residents aged 65 years and over.

ACT has the longest life expectancy

Australians are living longer than ever before, with the ACT having the longest life expectancy in the nation. However, with longer life expectancy also comes increased incidence and prevalence of many chronic diseases that affect quality of life and contribute to disability and the need for care.

The Health and Wellbeing of Older Persons in the ACT Report shows some positive results for the ACT, with 75.5 per cent of older Canberrans reporting their health to be excellent, very good or good. However, there are areas that need improvement, including exercise and injury prevention and nutrition and healthy eating.

Supporting healthy ageing in the ACT

The ACT Active Ageing Framework outlines a number of initiatives focused on delivering to support healthy ageing in Canberra. An example is the Falls and Falls Injury Prevention Program, which works with individuals and community organisations to prevent falls in older adults. This includes raising awareness of the common factors that contribute to falls, such as environmental hazards, medication usage and vision impairment.

Other Initiatives in the ACT Active Ageing Framework, include:

  • The Age Friendly Suburbs project, which aims to improve infrastructure and facilities to make it easier for older residents to move in and around their local community;
  • The Dementia Care in Hospitals Program, which provides Canberra Hospital staff with education around falls, delirium and dementia; and
  • The Health Promotion Grants Program, which supports community organisations to provide programs that promote healthy ageing and contributes to minimising the risk factors that cause chronic diseases.

Other key report findings

The Health and Wellbeing of Older Persons in the ACT Report covers health-related topics, including demographics, social indicators relevant to health, health status and quality of life, mortality and health service use. Some of the other report findings include:

  • By 2053, older persons are expected to comprise 21 per cent of the ACT population;
  • Older persons in the ACT are generally healthy, live at home and have access to social support;
  • Older persons in the ACT are making some healthy choices, but with room for improvement especially in relation to exercise and healthy eating;
  • Common health complaints for older persons in the ACT relate to eyesight (96%), musculoskeletal and connective tissue (67%), the circulatory system (62%), arthritis (55%), hypertensive disease (43%) and partial-to-full deafness (30%);
  • Cancer incidence increases dramatically with age. Between 2006 and 2010, more than half (54%) of all new cancer diagnoses among ACT men were for those aged 65 years or more; for women, this figure was 43%; and
  • It is estimated that in 2011, there were 3,600 people in the ACT living with dementia, most of who were aged 65 years or more. This is likely to increase to approximately 5,200 by 2020.

The report can be found here