The issue of New Zealand’s Ageing Population
There are currently over 12,000 seniors living alone in Wellington. With the 2023 Census right around the corner, Age Concern Wellington Region CEO Stephen Opie is expecting this number to jump.
Wellington is a popular region for seniors to live in. Kapiti Coast, for example, has one of the highest densities of people 65 and over in New Zealand, with around one in four residents being older.
In 2018, it was recorded that there were 74,200 seniors living in Wellington. Next year, the number is predicted to rise to 88,000. That will go up even more to 141,900 by 2048, which will be nearly a quarter of Wellington’s population at that time.
New Zealand has an ageing population. Currently, 17% of all our population is over 65, and this will continue to rise.
This isn’t just a major change for New Zealand. The population globally is ageing, too.
“As the population of seniors grows rapidly, so does the number of seniors living by themselves. I don’t see this abating for many decades at least,” Age Concern Wellington Region CEO Stephen Opie says.
Around 80 people a day are turning 65 and over across the country. In six years, New Zealand could see more than a million older people.
One of the issues that come with an ageing population is the need for increased health care services. With more older people requiring doctor and hospital visits, there will be added pressure on an already struggling health system.
Housing and infrastructure will need to adapt, too. Retirement villages will need to expand to accommodate the added numbers.
The age of retirement may fluctuate. As more people are living longer, they may choose to work for longer past the age of 65. Hiring older people may become more prevalent as the population continues to age, giving older people opportunities to continue their careers, share their experience with younger generations and even learn new skills.
With these added societal stresses, there are more seniors that will be living alone than ever. Age Concern is working to help as many seniors as they can.
“Living alone is a major contributing factor to the problem of loneliness,” Stephen Opie says. “Loneliness is a hidden issue that Age Concern is trying to bring into the light by reaching as many isolated seniors as possible. Demand for our services is growing.”
Age Concern helps seniors who require support and works toward solving the issue of loneliness.
~ Ashleigh Weyermayr and Mick Calder