Ageing well, ageing productively: The essential contribution of Australia's ageing population to the social and economic prosperity of the nation

Harvey, Peter W.; Thurnwald, Ian
December 2009
Health Sociology Review;Dec2009, Vol. 18 Issue 4, p379
Academic Journal
In Australia we have become preoccupied with the potential adverse impact of our ageing population on our health and social systems. The projected cost of having increasing proportions of our population in the over 70s, retired, chronically ill category of the demographic profile is emerging as a major challenge for governments and private insurers: so much so in fact that the government is now urging older people to stay at work longer. In America, new approaches to the management and self-management of chronic diseases have been invoked to encourage and support older people to improve their quality of life and reduce their recourse to and dependence upon health care technologies, clinical interventions and health care management systems. Unless this is achieved, it is argued, the cost of looking after this emerging ‘bubble’ of elderly people will become increasingly unsustainable as fewer and fewer (proportionately) younger people work to pay the taxes that support ageing, retired, sick and dependent populations. This paper argues that we are at real risk of having our economic wealth and productivity impeded and truncated by the financial burden of looking after high demand and high cost dependants at the aged end of the social demographic. This paper offers an alternative view of our ageing population, as well as highlighting some of the assets we have in our elderly populations, and providing suggestions as to an alternative view of the phenomenon of ageing that incorporates elements such as flexible working arrangements and the application of new, enabling technologies. This approach to our ageing population dilemma is predicated on a concept of lifelong learning and social participation along with better preventive and early intervention systems of health care.


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