The publication of this Fianna Fail policy paper on ageing coincides with the selection by the European Union of 2012 as the “European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations”. Europe’s populations are ageing fast as a result of low birth rates and rising life expectancy.
Here in Ireland, people are also living longer and have more years of healthy active living than previous generations enjoyed. As the life span of older people extends, the frailties and disabilities which affect them need a caring effective response. And as Ireland becomes a more urban society and more socially fragmented, social isolation and its many negative impacts on older people needs to be recognised and countered. The economic recession hits all sections of our society but has particularly severe consequences for older people which also deserve to be identified and mitigated.
Today, a woman who reaches the age of 65 years has an average life expectancy of 20 further years while a man can anticipate 17 additional years of life. We have an ever growing number of older people in our midst. They are projected to double in number from some 500,000 today to 1,000,000 in less than 20 years (Eurostat Data and Projections for 2030).
Those from their mid 50s on are also a concern of many ageing policies.