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The Australian Seniors Series: Ageing Perceptions

With more than two-thirds of Australian seniors stating they are feeling more content with their life now than when they were younger, it’s evident that there is a shift in self-perception. In fact, it’s been revealed that more than two in five (42.2%) see getting old as more of a positive.

The Ageing Perceptions report is the eleventh instalment of the Australian Seniors Series, an in-depth national study that investigates the shifting attitudes on the subjects that matter most to seniors. This chapter explores the concerns of ageing in Australia, self vs societal perception and contentment amongst Australians aged over 50.

Ageing Perceptions [infographic]

Shifting attitudes towards ageing

Almost half (47.7%) of seniors believe that ageism in Australia is more prevalent today compared to 20 years ago, with city dwellers (34.0%) believed to exhibit ageist behaviours more so than those living in regional areas (9.3%). And, it doesn’t just stop at the postcode. Seniors state they feel 18–34-year-olds are more likely to hold this prejudice than 35–49-year-olds (47.2% vs. 12.6%).

Millennials tend to agree, particularly when comparing the likelihood of ageism occurring in those living in the cities versus those living in regional areas (48.9% vs. 15.4%).

There is also alignment when it comes to resources, with both seniors and millennials agreeing they are unfairly divided between generations (68.6% v 68.0%). Further to this, both parties believe that a lot can be learnt from older Australians, with 84.6 per cent of seniors believing that millennials see seniors as having a lot of wisdom to share with younger generations.

Interestingly, millennials are more likely to believe that seniors are generally well respected by the young, with seniors not necessarily feeling the same way (63.6% vs. 47.4%).

Behaviours

They say you’re only as young as you feel, but looks could very well play a part, with three-in-10 (31.5%) seniors feeling pressured to keep fit for the sake of their looks. Furthermore, over one-in-four (27.5%) seniors agree that this pressure is greater now than when they were younger. Despite the pressures, only a small handful of seniors have decided to undergo plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures in order to preserve their youth (4.4%), compared with 5.3 per cent of millennials.

It seems that rather than going down the path of cosmetic enhancements, both seniors and millennials are turning to alternative medicines, with close to two in five (37.3%) seniors and a similar proportion (39.9%) of millennials using these remedies. Vitamins and minerals reign supreme in this category and are by far the most commonly used alternative medicines among seniors and millennials (86.9% and 83.8% respectively).

The interest in self-preservation doesn’t stop there, as a greater focus on health by both seniors and millennials (59.3% and 54.5% respectively), the availability of new information (53.6% and 52.2% respectively) and the availability of healthy food (52.4% and 58.9% respectively) changing the way we care for ourselves, particularly when compared to previous generations. Half (50.6%) of seniors say they are eating healthier than their parents did at their age, with a similar proportion (46.1%) of millennials believing the same thing.

Whilst there are certainly different perceptions in the attitudes toward and behaviours of Australian seniors, it is evident that ageing isn’t as daunting a prospect as it may have once been. When it comes to looks, passing down wisdom and the importance of health, seniors are content.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of the Australian Seniors Series… A report for seniors, by Seniors.


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Ageing Perceptions Full Report [pdf]