Advances in health care and increased standards of living has meant that on average Australians are living longer.
The number of Australians aged 65 and over is expected to increase rapidly, from around 2.5 million in 2002 to 6.2 million in 2042. That is, from around 13 per cent of the population to around 25 per cent. For Australians aged 85 and over, the growth is even more rapid, from around 300,000 in 2002 to 1.1 million in 2042
The associated pressures on health care funding and Aged Care are expected to place significant tolls on Government spending into the future.
In 2002 there were more than five people of working age to support every person aged over 65. By 2042 it is projected there will only be 2.5 people of working age supporting each person aged over 65.
The community’s expectation that the Government can pay for increasing Aged Care into the future is unsustainable. Governments will look for alternative funding sources to address the increasing cost issues.
Treasury officials, economists, Super Fund executives are increasingly highlighting this important future funding issue at many forums, seminars and conferences. Whilst there is no immediate answer it is clear that much thought is being given to designing a sustainable Aged Care and health system.
It is important to put Politics aside when considering this, as irrespective of which side of Politics is in power, the challenge of an ageing population remains. It is not just a challenge for politicians, it is a challenge for the whole community, a challenge for us all.
After contributing to your community during your working lifetime, it is only fair to enjoy your retirement years with an expectation that you will age with dignity; that you will be treated with dignity by your community.
The message is we need to stop expecting heavily subsidised Aged and Health Care into the future. Every employee needs to build in to their pay day saving now whilst they are working to help them live with dignity in retirement. Every Parent needs to teach their Kids to save 1st, and spend last.
We need to reverse the trend of have it now and pay for it later.
People getting older is not a crisis; it’s a blessing. Ageing with dignity is a challenge for us all.