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At least 420,000 Australian adults aged 55 years and over, or one in 10, currently have asthma (Australian Centre for Asthma Monitoring 2008). Asthma is under-diagnosed, often misdiagnosed, and undertreated in the older adult population in Australia (Gibson, McDonald and Marks 2010, Marks and Poulos 2005, Wilson et al 2001) as it is overseas. Contrary to the perception that asthma is a childhood disease, asthma can develop in older adults (Adams and Ruffin 2005). The risk of dying from asthma increases with age (AIHW 2010). While the overall mortality rate has decreased by almost 70% since 1989, much of this could be attributed to health promotion efforts directed largely at children and their parents and caregivers (Australian Centre for Asthma Monitoring 2008). In addition, the effects of asthma on quality of life lead to a significant asthma burden. Around 70% of the asthma burden in older adults is due to years lost on account of disability (Australian Institute for Health and Welfare 2010). Previous qualitative research has shown that older adults perceive that asthma is not serious and would not impact their lives (Andrews and Jones 2009).

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Open Access Conference Paper

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Open Access