Zenith Finance Blog

Problems with living longer – and the growing demand for aged care housing

Like most countries around the world, Australia has a big problem on its hands – old people.

Now, before you say, “Sam, I know what you mean. Only yesterday I was driving to work and this old guy in front of me was swerving over three lanes and…” let me clarify.

In Australia, we have a rapidly ageing population. As a result, we have insufficient housing and aged-care accommodation for them, not enough trained staff and carers, and insufficient money to solve the growing problems.

What can the government do to help?

The Government is well aware of the aging problem. So are the press, who have been writing stories on the subject for some time. But now they are making the headlines.

The fact is, no western government can afford the impending rush of long-living retired baby boomers, a cost that runs into the tens of trillions of dollars.

Not only do governments have to find a way to pay for all the promised benefits, this pails into insignificance against the potential bills for health services that are likely to be required.

This is one of the main reasons we are seeing such a demand for aged care and seniors housing development finance.

Don’t bank on that gold watch

A recent Australian Newspaper article suggests that people should keep on working to stay in control of their finances, their future, and as a result, their lives.

As one of the authors noted, “the smart people aren’t the ones retiring”, saying that those who can afford to retire, don’t, and those who can’t afford to, do.

He suggested that people who stay working often aren’t doing it for the money – it’s the pure pleasure and challenges that keep them ‘young’. They prefer to engage with the world, not withdraw from it.

And then there are those who just want to defer the whole thought of retirement.

In other words, it looks like most of us are going to have to work until we drop.

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, When I’m 94?

People tend to think, “If I’m 65, I’ve got a 15-year life expectancy”. But this is based on the notion that life expectancies for children born today are somewhere around 80 years.

What many of us are forgetting is that if you make it to 65, your life expectancy is a lot longer than 15 more years.

Take a look at these figures, based on actuarial probabilities in the USA (and similar figures apply in Australia):

  • 2000 statistics
    If a couple is aged 65, there’s a 62% probability one of them is going to live past age 90.
  • 1970 statistics
    If a couple is aged 65, there’s a 40% probability one of them is going to live past age 90.

This is a massive change in a relatively short period of time.

Why is Australia’s aged population growing?

The main reasons people are living longer is because we:

  • eat healthier food
  • watch our diets and weight
  • exercise more
  • use drugs that lower cholesterol, blood-pressure, heart and reflux problems
  • scan earlier and more often for cancers.

Consequently ‘longevity risk’ is fast becoming a huge problem and few seem to realise it.

Living longer sounds good, but it has its problems. Not least of which is running out of money!