Disability in older Australians: projections for 2006–2031

Lynne C Giles, Maria Crotty and Ian D Cameron
Med J Aust 2003; 179 (3): 130-133.


Objectives: To provide detailed projections for the prevalence of disability and associated common health conditions for older Australians for the period 2006–2031.

Design: Secondary analyses of datasets (national 1998 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers; and projections of Australia’s population from 2006–2031) collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Outcome measures: (i) The projected number of people with differing levels of disability (core activity restrictions in self-care, mobility or communication) up to 2031; (ii) The projected number of people with the main health conditions associated with disability in 2006 and 2031.

Results: Projections indicate a 70% increase in the number of older people with profound disability over the next 30 years. The main conditions associated with profound or severe core activity restriction in older Australians are musculoskeletal, nervous system, circulatory and respiratory conditions and stroke.

Conclusions: In the future, there will be many more older Australians requiring assistance because of disability. This will present a challenge to families, friends, volunteers and paid service providers. The Australian planning ratio for residential aged-care services and community aged care services should be changed to take account of the shift to an older population with greater need of support.

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  • Lynne C Giles1
  • Maria Crotty2
  • Ian D Cameron3

  • 1 Department of Rehabilitation and Aged Care, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA.
  • 2 Rehabilitation Studies Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

None identified.

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