31 Jan 2011

Statistics on Disability, Ageing and Caring released by the ABS today show that the proportion of Australians with a disability has fallen from 20% to 18.5% over the 6 year period from 2003 to 2009.  This decline has been observed among both males and females.

 

Importantly, the proportion with disabilities is declining across all older age groups, especially the 75-84 year old groups.

Planning impacts and potential social and public finance benefits

If these disability trends correlate with overall health trends for older people, this will also benefit the national accounts over future years.

While it is an optimistic set of statistics at a health and social level, these results also have impacts on forecasts for planning.  If these trends continue over the next 6 years, as the Baby Boomers age the requirement for some care facilities may be lower than previously forecast.  In addition, if these disability trends correlate with overall health trends for older people, this will also benefit the national accounts over future years, with health costs increasing less than expected.

These trends continue the marked improvements in health for older people which have been observed since the early 1900s.  Although the future trend is far from certain, and these public health benefits are not assured, the latest statistics are worthy of consideration in aged care, health and disability planning over the next 5-10 years.