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Older people

50 years and over

Health

Many factors contribute to the health status of Indigenous Australians. This section will provide some overall measures of health and outline main causes of ill health and death for Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over.

Self-assessed health

In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over:

  • 27% (36,900) thought their health was very good or excellent.
  • 31% (41,700) thought their health was good.
  • 42% (56,900) thought their health was fair or poor (Figure OP 9).
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Long-term health conditions

In 2018–19, 98% (132,900) of Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over had a current, long-term health condition—that is, conditions lasting or expected to last 6 months or more.

Overall, the most common current long-term health conditions were:

  • Diseases of eye and adnexa (92% or 124,600)
  • Diseases of musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (56% or 75,500)
  • Diseases of circulatory system (52% or 70,500) (Figure OP 10).
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Mental health conditions

In 2018–19, 28% (37,400) of Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over had a current long-term mental health condition.

The most common type of mental health condition was depression (20% or 27,400), followed by anxiety disorders (18% or 24,500) and behavioural or emotional problems (8% or 11,300) (Figure OP 11).

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Disability

In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over:

  • 69% (92,900) were living with a disability.
  • Similar proportions of Indigenous males (68% or 42,900) and females (69% or 50,000) were living with a disability (Figure OP 12a).
  • The proportion living with a disability in non-remote areas was 68% (74,400), and 70% (18,100) for those living in remote areas (Figure OP 12b).

Among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over who were living with a disability, the most common disability type was physical disabilities (74% or 68,400), followed by sight, hearing and speech disabilities (59% or 54,400) (Figure OP 12c).

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Deaths

In 2014–2018, among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over:

  • There were 9,939 deaths (1,828 per 100,000 population annually).
  • Males had a higher mortality rate (2,003 per 100,000 population annually, or 5,089 deaths) than females (1,675 per 100,000 population annually, or 4,850 deaths).

The leading cause of death for Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over was coronary heart disease (262 per 100,000 population annually, or 1,426 deaths).

Diabetes was the second leading cause of death, accounting for 940 deaths at a rate of 173 per 100,000 population annually (Figure OP 13).

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