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Media Release: New figures show older people significant portion of society

Age Concern New Zealand: Media Release: 15 May 2012:

New figures show older people significant portion of society

Age Concern New Zealand says new figures show the significant portion of society older people make up.

The figures, released yesterday by Statistics New Zealand, show those over 80 are the fastest growing age-group with the age group growing at about four times the rate of 20 years ago.

There are presently more than 160,000 New Zealanders aged over 80 but Statistics New Zealand estimates this number could reach half a million by 2050.

Age Concern New Zealand Chief Executive Ann Martin says this is great news for our country.

“People living longer, healthier lives has to be a positive.

“Older people are some of our most active volunteers, as well as an invaluable source of wisdom.

“It also means more older people will be able to stay in their own homes for longer and to care for those less able.”

However, Age Concern believes planning by all sectors of society will be required to meet a range of service demands.

“For Age Concern, it means we need to plan to be able to respond to the current and future needs and demand for our services.

An older population means more people who are isolated and lonely which will require visiting services such as Age Concern Accredited Visiting Services.

“There are also likely to be more people of this 80 year old age group being abused and requiring our prevention and intervention services,” she says.

Age Concern is calling for more government research, policy and planning on matters concerning older people.

“There doesn’t appear to be a lot of positive focus on seniors right now.

“Many people over 80 have complex needs but want to remain in their own homes with support. Government is aware of this and needs to make home-based care a priority.

“Those who can’t remain at home will need good residential care and for people needing acute treatment they will continue to need access to hospital beds and good primary health.”

Martin says these statistics also mean there is likely to be more older people surviving solely on the NZS only, which is difficult with rising costs.

“It would be wise for all of us who are not yet 80 to give some thought to how we wish to spend the latter year of our lives and to begin planning for this. Develop social networks and find out about local support services.”

ENDS

Media contact: Lucy Johnston, Communications & Marketing Manager, Age Concern New Zealand – ph 04 801 9338