Ireland is to be recognised as one of the best places in the world to grow old on Monday during a ceremony at Slane Castle in Co Meath.
Representatives of the State’s 31 local authorities will receive charters from the World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledging that each has taken part in an age-friendly programme in partnership with stakeholders from the public, business and community/non-government sectors.
Ireland’s population has steadily been getting older steadily since the 1980s with the over-65 age group increasing by 19 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures predict that the number of people aged 65 and over will increase from 629,800 in 2016 to potentially 1.6 million in 2051. A spending review by the Department of Public Expenditure forecasts that more than 250,000 inhabitants of the State will be aged over 80 years by 2031.
The Age Friendly Ireland Programme, the aim of which is that every local authority area in Ireland will be a great place in which to grow old, has been in operation for 10 years.
Key milestones in that time have included developing age-friendly facilities such as housing developments, libraries, airport guidelines, car parking, improving the public realm to benefit people during older age as well as improving customer service and communication with older people.
The Age Friendly Ireland Programme aims to future-proof society for growth in the ageing population across all sectors including the provision of public services, community services, academia and businesses. Each local authority is expected to to streamline practices with the interests and needs of older people at their core.
Ireland was last April recognised by the WHO as the first country in the world to have achieved full membership across all administrative areas in its age-friendly programme initiative.
Healthy and active
With the international population ageing, the initiative is a key WHO strategy to enable people of all ages to actively participate in the community. It aims to help people stay healthy and active for longer in old age and provides support to those who can no longer look after themselves.
Alana Officer, senior adviser on ageing at the WHO, will be welcomed to Slane Castle by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who is expected to commend the local authorities for delivering age-friendly policies and practices.
Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty; Minister of State for Housing Damien English; Minster of State for Older People Jim Daly; Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee and Meath Co Council cathaoirleach Wayne Harding will also be in attendance.