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Expect to live a disability-free life for longer

Australians can expect to life a disability-free life for longer according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) study.

Australians can expect to life a disability-free life for longer (Source: Shutterstock)
Australians can expect to life a disability-free life for longer (Source: Shutterstock)

The 'Life expectancy and disability in Australia: expected years living with and without disability' report found Australians at age 65 can expect to live, on average, over half of their remaining years without some level of disability.

‘Life expectancy’ measures how many years, on average, a person of a given age can expect to live if current death rates do not change, and while it is an important indicator of population health, people’s health and wellbeing are also increasingly being considered in terms of their quality of life and functional status.

The report asks whether longer life is being exchanged for lower quality of life; ‘health expectancies’, the expected years spent in various health states, can give an indication of this.

In 2013–2015, life expectancy at age 65 (the number of additional years a person aged 65 could expect to live) was just under 20 years for men and just over 22 years for women. Men aged 65 in 2015 could expect to live, on average, an additional 9 years free of disability and around 10 years with some level of disability, including 3 years with severe or profound core activity limitation and needing help with 1 or more activities of self-care, mobility and communication. 

This equates to men living 53 percent of their remaining life with disability, including living 17 percent with severe or profound core activity limitation.

Women aged 65 are slightly better off and could expect to live, on average, an additional 10 years free of disability but could experience around 12 years with some level disability, including 6 years with severe or profound core activity limitation. 

This equates to women living 55 percent of their remaining life with disability, including living 25 percent with severe or profound core activity limitation.

The report also predicts boys born in 2015 could expect to live an average of 63 years free of disability and around 17 years with some level of disability, including 5 years with severe or profound core activity limitation. This equates to males living 22 percent of their overall life expectancy with disability, including living 7 percent with severe or profound core activity limitation.

Girls born in 2015 could expect to live an average of 65 years free of disability and around 19 years with some level of disability, including over 7 years with severe or profound core activity limitation. This equates to females living 23 percent of their overall life expectancy with disability, including living 9 percent with severe or profound core activity limitation.

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