The ageing population in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to more than quadruple from 533 million in 2015 to over 2.45 billion by 2050 with almost two-thirds of the world’s older population living in the Asia-Pacific (United Nations ESCAP 2017). Australia is situated in the Asia-Pacific region with some of the countries with the fastest-growing ageing population such as China.
Australia will face demographic changes in the coming years where the proportion of elderly will rapidly grow. By 2053, the aged 65 or over will make up 21% of the population (8.3 million people) by medium level estimates by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. By 2053, there will be one working-age person for every 2.5 elderly aged 65 or over (Australian Government 2017). China is experiencing fast-growth of it’s older population over 65 which will make up one-quarter of China’s entire population by 2050. Longer life expectancy, as well as decreases in birth rates, are the driving forces of this demographic change.
As the ageing population is a networked problem, its impacts are far and wide reaching affecting all parts of society from healthcare, retirement, housing, transportation and employment for both old and young as well as country economies. Australia will see significant increases in non-communicable diseases and healthcare costs in future years. The coming generations of older citizens will have different desires, hopes, dreams, needs and expectations to current and past generations, with the first Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964) having reached the retirement age of 65. While technological advancements are developing quickly enabling more independent living and access to services in the home, our perceptions of ageing also require a shift to enable our older citizens to age positively, healthily and with purpose in our society.
How might we live out our lives well with purpose?
How might we enable older citizens to positively age at home and in the community?
How might we reimagine ageing products, services, models and systems for coming generations of older citizens?
How might we reduce loneliness and social isolation experienced in retirement?
United Nations ESCAP 2017, ‘ Social Development in Asia and the Pacific, Ageing’, viewed 12 December 2017, <http://www.unescapsdd.org/ageing/overview>
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014, ‘Ageing and the health system: challenges, opportunities and adaptations’, Australia’s health 2014, Australia’s health series, no. 14 cat. no. AUS 178, Canberra, pp.256–258.
Australian Government 2017, Australia’s demographic challenges, Australian Government, The Treasury, viewed 30 June 2017 <https://demographics.treasury.gov.au/content/_download/australias_demographic_challenges/html/adc-04.asp>
Text by Vivien Sung. Images by Vivien Sung, Eva Li