MEDIA RELEASE: New online resource Life Checks recognises we need to plan well to achieve the best possible ageing

Australia’s leading senior’s advocacy organisation COTA Australia has congratulated the government on the launch of its new Life Checks campaign, website and resources, which may potentially provide life checks and information for more than 9 million mid-life and older Australians.

COTA Australia CEO, Ian Yates, said the Life Checks questionnaire and supporting resources are recognition that we need to plan as a nation for a population that is living longer than ever before.

The new Life Checks website includes an online quiz for Australians aged 45-64 and another for Australians 65 and older – with resources and information on financial planning, health, finance, work and being involved in the community.

“As a nation we’re getting older, and we need to make sure that we don’t just live longer, we live well,” Mr Yates said.

“We can expect two key milestones in later life –  in our mid-40s when most people are still working and supporting a family, but needing to think more about their future; and then in our mid 60s when planning for less work, potential retirement and maintaining health and wellbeing are more dominant.

“However, 1 in 4 Australians over 55 do not have a financial plan for the next five years – let alone beyond that. Too often, we don’t plan for things such as aged care until we’re in crisis,” said Mr Yates.

The State of the Older Nation report released by the Councils on the Ageing in December last year found that 1 in 4 (27%) Australians over 50 were most worried about finances and the cost of living, highlighting the need for additional support and financial advice amongst mid-life and older Australians.

The report also found health to be a key cause for concern amongst older Australians, with 1 in 3 (32%) of them most concerned or worried about health issues.

“Our research identified health and finances as two of the major concerns for older Australians, so it is great to see the Life Checks campaign providing timely and useful advice and resources in these two key areas.

“This is the first time we have had a government supported campaign that takes a life cycle approach to ageing, that acknowledges the need to prepare properly for an ageing population and to provide a comprehensive range of supports that all Australians can have access to as they move through later phases of life.”

The Life Checks program is part of the More Choices for a Longer Life ageing and aged care package announced in the 2018–19 Federal Budget, to which COTA made major contributions, including arguing for this initiative.

Mr Yates said supporting independence and social and mental well-being as Australians age is also economic good sense – whether that is:

  • ensuring Australians can continue to work for as long as they choose to do so, in the face of continued age discrimination, and with an often rapidly changing economy
  • helping them plan financially for their retirement, enabling them to set realistic goals and know where to get good advice
  • maintaining their health for much longer, by having regular health checks and making lifestyle changes to maximise their chances of good health
  • assisting planning for later life options to achieve improved access to home support services and greater choice in residential aged care.

“Life Checks is a vital component in a comprehensive approach to positive ageing and a really important and welcome social innovation for Australia,’ Mr Yates said.

“The version of the quiz and support resources launched today is the first step – they won’t be perfect, but this is a big, bold step forward that must now be monitored, evaluated, improved and extended as we learn what works well and what can be improved.

“Importantly, Life Checks must be properly and widely promoted so that it is not just a one-off, tick a box election promise or Budget measure, but is taken up and used by all Australians as they move through life, in every part of the country.”

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Bronte Kerr 0411 676 269

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.