Chronically ill seniors keep working to pay for health care

MOST older workers with chronic health problems are earning $500 a week or less and cannot afford to retire, despite reaching retirement age, a new study has found.

The research, led by the University of Sydney's Professor Deborah Schofield for the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, was released on Wednesday.

It found that 80% of those aged between 65 and 74 with ongoing health problems earned $500 or less a week, while just 2% earned more than $1500 a week.

But it also found that 49% of those with chronic health problems said they had no plans to retire compared with 23% without a chronic condition.

While the research did not analyse how people in regional areas fared compared with older city workers, the higher incidence of medical problems in rural Australia may point to a bigger problem.

National Seniors chief executive Michael O'Neill said while it was in everyone's interest to have older people working longer, many were suffering.

"If they have chronic health conditions but can manage to keep working, they will be better able to afford the medical care and equipment they need," he said.

"Unfortunately, many older people in poor health but still working believe they will never be able to afford to retire."

While he said flexible working hours or changes to the workplace could help keep older workers in a job, more preventative health were "perhaps the best solution" to help people work and fund a comfortable retirement.

Topics:  ageing illness university of sydney workforce

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