Government publishes ‘positive ageing’ strategy

Ageing not just a health issue, says Minister Kathleen Lynch

Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State for Older People: “ageing is a lifelong process that does not start at 65 years of age.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State for Older People: “ageing is a lifelong process that does not start at 65 years of age.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 15:33

The Government has published a National Positive Ageing Strategy, six years after work started on the document.

The document aims to provide a blueprint for planning for the ageing of society; by 2041, about 1.3-1.4 million people will be aged over 65, or up to 25 per cent of the population.

Services for older people must henceforth be delivered on the basis of need rather than chronological age, Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State for Older People, told the launch of the document today.

In the past, policy relating to older people tended to deal almost exclusively with health and social care issues, she said. The strategy seeks to highlight that ageing is not just a health issue, but requires a whole of Government response to address a range of interconnected factors that affect health and wellbeing.

“The strategy also highlights that ageing is a lifelong process that does not start at 65 years of age – the choices that we make when young and middle aged will determine how healthy we will be in our old age,” Ms Lynch said.

She described the strategy as a call to action to Government departments, other statutory agencies and the community, voluntary and private sectors to “start now” and ensure that older people are recognised, supported and enabled to live independent, full lives.

The document contains objectives aimed at developing older people’s opportunities to participate in society, to maintain their health, to stay in their own homes as long as possible and to use research to better inform policymaking in the area.

Active Retirement Ireland welcomed the strategy but expressed concerns it may be impossible to implement under current fiscal restrictions.

“Current fiscal restrictions leave no impetus for other departments to implement the recommendations,” said chief executive Maureen Kavanagh. “We would be very concerned that the strategy, while well-meaning and quite comprehensive, is practically impossible to implement.”

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