Minister Brady consults with older people in the Midlands
The Minister for Older People and Health Promotion Áine Brady TD today met with over 130 older people, service providers and personnel from voluntary and community bodies working with older people in the Midlands. The public consultation, held at the Radisson Hotel, Athlone, was the last in a series of meetings held throughout the country over the past three months in relation to the National Positive Ageing Strategy, a detailed plan that will set the direction for future policies, programmes and services for older people in the years ahead.
Noting that this is the first time that there has been such a wide-ranging consultation between Government and older people in Ireland on issues that impinge on their lives, Minister Brady emphasised that she is very much aware of the need to ensure that every voice is heard, that every issue is raised and that all viewpoints are given ample consideration.
“These meetings have been immensely helpful to me in the preparatory work to develop a Strategy that will enhance the health, well-being and autonomy of older people in Ireland,” the Minister said. “The new Strategy will set the direction of policies, programmes and services for older people in the years ahead. In developing it we are planning for an Ireland in which there will be more older people than ever before in our history,” she noted.
Outlining a variety of issues raised in the course of the consultation meetings, the Minister said that these had included the need for better presentation of information on services and entitlements, the need for transport that enables people to continue to get out and about, and the importance of an adequate income in later life. The Minister also noted that older people are particularly concerned about the ageist attitudes which they encounter on a daily basis. These include the attitudes of people who provide services of all kinds and which put across the idea that older people are less valued as service users or as consumers.
“We are committed to helping people maintain a positive quality of life as they grow older, encouraging them to think positively about the ageing process, enabling them to plan sensibly for their later years and promoting the kind of lifestyle practices that will have the effect of adding years to life and life to years”, Minister Brady said.
In her concluding remarks, the Minister said that she was convinced that services can be organised and delivered in much better ways than they are at present.
“Given the very real constraints on the public finances, we are not in a position to propose immediate new services at this point” the Minister said. “Nevertheless, we can make existing services work better and we can plan ahead to set the direction for future services that will be of benefit to people as they grow older” Minister Brady suggested.
The meeting was also addressed by Renee Dempsey, CEO of the Equality Authority, who spoke on the theme ‘Challenging Ageism to create an Age-Friendly Society’. The meeting was chaired by John Kincaid, Chair of the Midland Support Agency.