A recent study has shown that most Australian retirees spend a similar amount from their household income, regardless of their income and wealth (link). (Above graphic from p.17 of report).
The research showed that ’80 per cent of retired households reported expenditure levels considered to be the most basic standard living for retirees ($23,797 for singles, $43,226 for couples)’ and that ‘that contrary to conventional wisdom, expenditure did not appear to decline throughout the period of retirement – i.e. it is relatively constant’.
What this research points to is that high-income earning households spend about the same as low-income households, thus saving a considerable amount more from their gross income.
Clearly this could have an effect on lower earning pensioners’ access to services like physiotherapy in the future.
Healthcare is considered an ‘essential’ in the report, while leisure and recreational activities are considered an ‘extra’, so it may be that physiotherapists sees no appreciable decline in uptake from older adults with the gradual move away from publicly-funded health care.
If, however, physiotherapy comes to be seen by older adults as an expensive luxury, because its fees rise beyond that which pensioners are prepared to pay, then physiotherapists are likely to notice a significant impact on their work.
Perhaps more significantly, large proportions of the older adult population will be denied physiotherapy and may choose to turn to other, cheaper, more risky therapeutic options.
Given the increasing burden of chronic illness among the elderly and the growth in the proportion of the population that is over retirement age, it might pay physiotherapists to take heed of research like this when thinking about how to meet the needs of the whole population in the future.