National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Chapter 5. The health of older people
☰ Table of contents


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have different age structures to the non-Indigenous population, due to high fertility and increased mortality at all ages, giving a much lower median age (21.8 years versus 37.6 years).1 The aged population is therefore smaller as a proportion, with 8.8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being over 55 years of age and only 3.3% over 65 years of age. The corresponding figures for non-Indigenous Australians are 22% and 13% respectively.2 In 2006 this amounted to 60,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50 years of age, contrasting with almost 6.2 million non-Indigenous people in the same age group.3 Of the total Australian population aged 75 years and older, only 0.4% (5000 people) identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person.3 However, demographic shifts are occurring, and the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 55 years of age is projected to double between 2011 and 2026.2 The care of older people is becoming more important as the population ages. In addition, many of the disorders that affect older people occur at younger ages for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Many areas of preventive care for older people are covered in other chapters of this guide; in particular, vision (Chapter 6: Eye health), hearing (Chapter 7: Hearing loss), respiratory disease (Chapter 9: Respiratory health) and cardiovascular health (Chapter 11: Cardiovascular disease prevention). This chapter will cover three important issues relating to older people not covered elsewhere in this guide: osteoporosis, falls and dementia.

National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people


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