In our continuing series examining the things that divide Australians, today we look at the gap between old and young:

The Herald Sun has told us about some of today’s youth being “binge-drinking delinquents“, but what else?

  • It is estimated that 1.5 million people under the age of 18 are overweight or obese, 50 percent of which will continue to be obese into adulthood.
  • Melanoma is the most common cancer for people in the 15 to 24 year old age bracket.

We could all list the major causes of death in the elderly, but what about the lesser known health issues?:

  • The poorest 5 percent of elderly men have rates of pneumonia and influenza 53 percent higher than the richest 5 percent. They also suffer from rates of lung cancer 28 percent higher, and strokes are 16 percent more common. Highly disadvantaged elderly women have rates of diabetes 32 percent higher than those who are well off.
  • Rates of depression are higher in aged care facilities than the rest of society, with as many as 51 percent of patients in high-care facilities, and 30 percent of low-care residents reported as suffering depression.

The age difference:

  • In 2004, only 65 percent of men aged between 18 and 24 were religiously affiliated (59 percent of Christianity), in comparison to 82 percent of older men.
  • In 2003, the median age of Australians born in Italy was 63.4 years, 61.0 years for Greece, 56.8 years for Germany and 52.9 years for the United Kingdom. On the other hand, the median age for Australians born in Vietnam was 39.0, South Africa 37.6 and India was 39.9.

Between 1997 and 2051 the number of people aged over 85 years is expected to increase by 5.3 times. Considerations for the future:

  • As a result of the ageing population, Australia will require 10,000 additional nurses by 2010. However, if no one had ever smoked cigarettes, it is estimated that only half of the current healthcare workforce would be required.
  • Between 1996 and 2001, the number of healthcare workers aged over 45 years increased from 31 to 39 percent. 46 percent of doctors are currently aged over 45, creating major problems for the future.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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