60 is new 50: one in five older Aussies feel 10 years younger

Many Aussies over 50 say they feel positive about their mental, physical and financial health. Picture:Shutterstock.
Many Aussies over 50 say they feel positive about their mental, physical and financial health. Picture:Shutterstock.

According to a survey of Aussies over the age of 50, around 70 per cent said they actually felt younger than their chronological age, with one in five feeling more than 10 years younger.

The survey, by yourlifechoices.com.au, an online resource aimed at over 50s, surveyed more than 7000 mature-aged Aussies to form a first-of-its-kind index that provides a holistic barometer of attitudes and behaviours of the older demographic across five core tenets of wellbeing.

Leon Della Bosca, publishing general manager at YourLifeChoices, said the survey results fly in the face of common perceptions of older Australians.

Results revealed that most felt positive about their safety and security, mental, physical and financial health, despite significant risk factors such as employer age discrimination, pandemic-induced social exclusion, government entitlement confusion and diminished sex life.

Strong financial wellbeing, particularly as a result of owning their home, was a catalyst for feelings of safety and security. Overall, almost three in four (73 per cent) indicated they were confident handling their finances.

"The data proves that older Australians are not as mentally and physically fragile as we may otherwise be lead to believe," Della Bosca said.

"Many are feeling relatively positive about their finances too. It's easy to forget that this demographic holds approximately 50 per cent of the country's wealth and 46 per cent of its disposable income."

The data proves that older Australians are not as mentally and physically fragile as we may otherwise be lead to believe.

Leon Della Bosca, YourLifeChoices

"The narrative around older Australians is far too often a negative one. The thoughts and feelings of this demographic can often go missing in the public eye or simply be held to historical stereotypes.

"The aim of this inaugural wellbeing index was to dig a little deeper to truly understand how over 50s are really feeling."

Despite the prevailing positivity in terms of financial comfort, respondents still cited a lack of understanding of government pensions and allowances, and alarmingly, only half (50 per cent) claimed they had a good understanding of superannuation.

However, one of the biggest risks to wellbeing was age discrimination, with 72 per cent of older Australians experiencing discrimination either in a professional or personal setting.

Other risk factors considered to have a negative impact were the effects of recreational drug use (32 per cent) and alcohol consumption (15 per cent).

In terms of physical and mental wellbeing, family (53 per cent), diet (49 per cent), relationships (46 per cent) and exercise (45 per cent) ranked as having the strongest positive impact, however the data revealed that mental health in particular was an area that suffered during 2020, especially during lockdown periods.

As a result, one in three respondents rated their social life as poor or very poor, and one in four respondents reported a disconnection from Australian society.

"Much like large portions of society last year, it's not surprising that COVID-19 also took a mental toll on this demographic. Social isolation is a serious concern, so it will be interesting to see how this pattern evolves in future indexes as the vaccine rolls out across the country," Della Bosca said.

"One of the positive outcomes of the pandemic has been that we've seen a real return to old community values, such as looking after and talking to your neighbours, supporting local businesses, and getting involved in community organisations or volunteering groups. This will have huge impact on the lives of older Australians."