Living arrangements

Dwellings

In 2011, almost all people aged 65–84 years were living in private homes, whereas over a quarter of those aged 85 years and over were living in other types of dwellings, such as nursing homes.

The place we call home as we get older plays a leading role in productive ageing. In 2011, 99% of people aged 65–74 years and 94% of people aged 75–84 years lived in a private dwelling. Almost four in five (78%) older Australians lived in a separate house, with seven in ten of those aged 85 years and over still living in a separate house. Five per cent lived in retirement villages.

Around a quarter of people aged 85 years and over lived in other types of dwellings—predominantly nursing homes (67%) and accommodation for the retired or aged (not self-contained) (25%). While the proportion has decreased over the last 20 years (as shown in Figure 3), the amount of people in these situations has almost doubled (from around 59,000 in 1991 to around 107,000 in 2011). In 1991, about 27% of men and 43% of women aged 85 years and over lived in non-private dwellings, compared with 18% of men and 31% of women of these ages in 2011.10

Figure 3: Persons aged 85 years and over living in non-private dwellings who were at home on Census night, 1991–2011

Figure 3: Persons aged 85 years and over living in non-private dwellings who were at home on Census night, 1991–2011.

Source: ABS, 2012, Where and how do Australia's Older People Live? Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census

Households

In 2011, one in five people aged 65–74 years were living on their own, compared with 35% of those aged 85 years and over.

Two-thirds of people aged 65–74 years lived with a partner or spouse, compared with less than a quarter of those aged 85 years and over. One in five people aged 65–74 years were living on their own, compared with 35% of those aged 85 years and over (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Household living arrangements of older people who were at home on Census night, 2011

Figure 4: Household living arrangements of older people who were at home on Census night, 2011.

Source: ABS, 2012, Where and how do Australia's Older People Live? Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census

Close to one in ten older people lived with relatives other than their spouse. Seven per cent were living with one or more of their children in the following situations:

  • with child or children only (4%)
  • with child and grandchildren (2%)
  • with child and child's partner only (less than 1%).

According to ABS Household and Family Projections for 2011–36, the number of households in Australia is projected to grow from 8.4 million to around 12.7 million. Lone-person households are projected to have the fastest increase, going from 2.1 million in 2011 to around 3.4 million (27% of all households) in 2031.

There are only small changes in the projections for persons aged 60–75 years, as figures have been stable over the past 20 years. In 2036, close to 60% will be living as a couple without children, and between 16% and 19% of 60–64 year olds and 17% to 22% of 70–74 year olds will be living alone.

For people aged 75–84 years, over half will be living as a couple without children, around 30% will be living alone, 15% will be living with children or other relatives (the same as in 2011) and a small proportion will be in aged-care facilities. However, for persons aged 85 years and over, the proportion living with a partner will increase from 23% to between 23% and 35%, with about a third living alone, a third in a non-private dwelling, and the remainder with relatives.11

Disability status and living arrangements

In 2012, over half of older people with disability living in a private dwelling needed some form of assistance with one or more activities of daily life.

In 2012, ABS conducted its Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers. This found that 53% of older people were classed as having a disability, with most of these individuals living in a private dwelling (85%). Of these, 56% needed some form of assistance with one or more activities of daily life. While most older people with disability lived with others, there were around 61,300 older people (2%) with a profound core activity limitation living alone in a private dwelling.

For those people without a disability, almost all lived in a private dwelling (96%).

Figure 5: Older people, by disability status, living arrangement and need for assistance, 2012

Figure 5: Older people, by disability status, living arrangement and need for assistance, 2012.

Source: ABS, 2012, Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers

10 ABS, 2012, Where and how do Australia's Older People Live? Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census. <www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2071.0main+features602012-2013>

11 3236.0 - Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2011 to 2036 (Latest issue released at 11:30 AM (Canberra time) 19/03/2015). <www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3236.0>

Next: Ageing in Australia: Health

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