An age-friendly European Union

Guardado en: Aging and health • Publicado el 27/04/2015 • Comentarios: 0

Creating an age-friendly EU as a response to EU demographic challenges

What do we mean by an age-friendly European Union?

Eurostat population projections foresee that the number of people aged over 60 will increase by about two million persons per annum in the coming decades, while the working age population will start to shrink (as a result of lower fertility rates among post baby boom generations). This will result in an increasing number of very old persons aged 80 or over and fewer young persons to care for them.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the physical and social environments are key determinants of whether people can remain healthy, independent and autonomous long into their old age. Promoting age-friendly environments is one of the most effective approaches for responding to demographic change and increasing the Healthy Life Year indicator. Creating age-friendly environment to the needs of the ageing population in order to empower people to age in better physical and mental health, promote their social inclusion and active participation and help them maintain their autonomy and a good quality of life in their old age. They enable older workers to remain at work for longer, lower the pressure on traditional care and assistance and boost the economy through demand for innovative solutions.

We believe that the best solution to Europe´s demographic challenge is therefore to empower older people to age in better health and to contribute more actively to the labour market and to their communities. This will help lower the pressure on public budgets and will enable our societies to better cope with demographic ageing in a way that is fair for all generations.

We need a positive attitude to ageing…

…that recognises the value of all age groups’ identities and contribution to society. Most people feel that there are not enough opportunities for older and younger people to meet and work together in associations and local community iniciatives and some 90% think that schools should promote better relations between the young and the old.

Local and regional actors can promote a positive attitude to ageing in their communities by supporting activities that bring together different generations such as sport clubs, cultural associations, choirs, recruiting older volunteers to help in schools, etc.

If young and old people have to work together they have to develop mutual respect and gain recognition of their own skills and abilities. The proverb says: «the younger run faster, but the older know the short cut»

Extracted from comments at the March 2015 EU Summit on Active and Healthy Ageing

by F. Javier Gonzalez.

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