Aged disability and community care in Australia: issues for southern Africa

  • J. (John) McCallum National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra
  • C. Mathers Australian Institute of Health


Disability among the aged is an issue of growing importance to southern Africa as it is throughout the world. New methods and debates about disability and ageing are illustrated by a discussion of the Australian situation. First, trends in mortality and life expectancy are outlined, and the debate about the compression of mortality critically examined. Second, the same techniques of analysis are applied to disability and handicap rates derived from national surveys. The hypothesis of compression of morbidity or illness is also critically examined. Third, the impact on the community of disability is discussed, and expectations of life "free of community services" and ''free of institutionalization" are calculated. Finally, trends in health-risk factors and the contributions of various diseases to health expectations are outlined. Southern African countries are also part of the movement to measure quality-of-life years-not only quantity - and need to develop their population monitoring of disability and demands for community care. The development will facilitate policy planning to improve the management of community services provided for the elderly by families, the community and formal providers.


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