Older people make up a significant proportion of Australia’s population – over 1 in 7 people are aged 65 and over. Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world, however the success of our collective ageing has revealed a range of challenges and evidence of failures in how we treat older people. Most older Australians are living longer and in better health than ever before, but while some groups thrive in retirement and into older age, others continue to face disadvantage and discrimination that affects both their health and opportunities for social and economic engagement. The recent Royal Commission into aged care has highlighted many troubling cases of neglect and abuse of frail, elderly people which has shocked the nation. Ageism is still widespread, and common stereotypes continue to undermine and stigmatise the capacities of older people.
What are the implications of an ageing population? In what ways do older people contribute to our society and economy; and how do we learn to value and care for them as their needs grow with advancing age, declining health and increasing disability? Ageing and older people should matter to us all.