Defining older age

In Australia, older age is commonly associated with certain life transitions or eligibility for certain types of support.

For example, someone might be considered ‘old’ or ‘older’ when they reach retirement age or become eligible for the age pension.

It might surprise you to know that in Australia there is actually no fixed retirement age. In 2020, the average retirement age for men was between 62 and 65. Women tend to retire 1-3 years earlier.

Data shows many people are retiring later in life. This is because:

  • we are living longer;
  • our lifestyle expectations are changing;
  • our financial commitments (such as mortgages and other debts) are being carried for longer; and
  • the pension age is gradually increasing from 65 to 67 years

Attitudes to ageing and older people are also slowly changing. People want to contribute longer.

We might consider someone is “old” when they qualify for certain aged care services and supports. But even access to these services is variable.

For example, eligibility for My Aged Care services starts at 65 years of age (or 50 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people), while people qualify for a seniors card (giving eligibility to certain discounts and concessions) when they reach 60 years of age.[1]

Some definitions of older age relate to people as young as 50 or 55, and as we shall discuss, many people living with HIV may also age earlier than people living without HIV.

There are many factors to consider!

Reflective Question

How do you personally define old(er) age?
What does old(er) age mean to you?


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