Aged Care

Age-friendly retirement villages key to healthier, happier ageing


The Retirement Living Council (RLC) emphasises the crucial role of age-friendly retirement communities in improving the health and well-being of older Australians, responding to the findings of the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) annual Public Hospital Report Card.

Released recently, the AMA report highlights that Australians aged over 65 accounted for over 40% of total separations from public hospitals in 2021–22, with 47% of total patient days in public hospital beds. Additionally, the report notes a decline in the number of beds per 1,000 Australians aged over 65, reaching a record low of 14.3.

RLC Executive Director Daniel Gannon stresses that while these findings are concerning, age-friendly retirement villages offer a solution that promotes better health outcomes. “Age-friendly retirement villages are leading to better health outcomes for older Australians because they are purpose designed and put social interaction at their core,” Gannon said.

Research indicates that residents of retirement villages are 20% less likely to require hospitalisation with nine months of living in these communities, resulting in approximately 14,000 avoided hospitalisations annually across Australia. Compared to non-residents, village residents are also more physically active (15% increase), happier (41% increase) and socially active (five times more).

Moreover, age-friendly communities help minimise older Australians’ interactions with healthcare systems, delaying entry into taxpayer-funded aged care. This reduction in healthcare interactions results in annual savings of $945 million for the Australian Government, while also freeing up aged care beds to meet increasing demand.

With the ageing population and the challenges highlighted in the AMA report, Gannon urges governments to prioritise housing solutions that promote longer-term health and happiness. He calls for retirement units to be included in the Australian Government’s target of 1.2 million new homes, alongside measures to address financial barriers.

“Urgent reforms to Commonwealth Rent Assistance eligibility and age pension means testing are short-term priorities for industry,” Gannon said.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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