Ageing Aucklanders frisky but lonely

Last updated 05:00 24/09/2012

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A survey of ageing Aucklanders has found they're a frisky bunch well into their twilight years but more than half are lonely and the majority are daily drinkers. 

Auckland results from the New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Ageing, which surveyed 3317 Kiwis aged 50 to 84, have been analysed and released by Auckland Council.

According to the survey, just under 80 per cent of those aged 50-64, had some sexual contact and 22 per cent of 75 to 84 year olds were ''quite a bit'' or ''very much'' interested in sex and most had some sexual contact, ''albeit less frequently''.

Women were much more likely to have no interest in sex than men, 21.8 per cent to 4.7 per cent.

Despite high levels of interest in sex, over half of the 707 Aucklanders questioned were lonely and nine per cent said they were ''severely'' or ''very severely'' lonely.

Alcohol overuse - classed as having more than three drinks a day - was typical among 61.4 per cent of respondents.

Older people were happier than younger people according to the survey and by ethnicity, Maori led the way with 86 per cent being ''pretty happy'' or ''extremely happy'' followed by Europeans, 83 per cent.

Women were much less likely than men to be partnered, 64.4 per cent compared to 82.2 per cent, and Asians were most likely to be married, 93.3 per cent.

The survey found while the majority of older Aucklanders were ''satisfied'' with their lives, health and living standards, ''respondents are increasingly facing a future of less housing and income security''.

''Many worry about their personal security; over half of the sample is lonely; depression is a factor for a significant minority; and many experience everyday discrimination because of their age,'' the report reads.

More than half of respondents were in paid work, 38.3 per cent in full time work and 17.7 in part time work. Nearly 19 per cent of those aged 65 to 74 were in full time work and nearly 16 per cent in part time work. 

Europeans were paid the most and Pacific people the least.

Slightly more than 16 per cent of respondents' income placed them below the poverty line. 

The poverty rate for Pacific people was the worst, 63.6 per cent, and the survey concluded the results from older Pacific Islanders was ''very concerning''. 

They had ''extremely high rates'' of poverty and hardship, more financial dependents, much lower living standards and significantly less educational and material resources.

They were most likely renters and had few assets. But despite this, they had one of the highest rates of Kiwisaver contribution. 

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Women, 24.3 per cent, were more likely to be depressed than men, 17.2 per cent, and Asians were most likely to suffer from depression, 40 per cent.

The vast majority of respondents, 91 per cent felt safe and walking alone around their neighbourhoods during the day, but only 47 per cent were happy to so at night.

Pacific people and Asians were ''considerably less likely'' to do so than other ethnicities and Pacific people, 15.4, per cent were most likely to have been threatened in their homes.

- Auckland Now

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