Press Release

Minister Daly launches the second Positive Ageing Indicators for Ireland report

Satisfaction with life and social connectedness remain high among older population, with level of medication a concern
Key indicators for Irish Travellers and people with an intellectual disability identified for the first time

Nine out of ten adults in Ireland aged over 56 years are confident they have a friend or relative they can rely on, with 88% of older adults taking part in weekly social leisure activities, according to the second National Positive Ageing Indicators Report published by the Department of Health and launched by the Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD. The report also shows that 32% of older adults are taking five or more prescription medicines on a daily basis.

This year’s report also includes supplementary indicators for two groups in Irish society not sufficiently represented in the initial indicator set in 2016: Irish Travellers and people with an intellectual disability.

The indicators highlight some positive news about the lives of people ageing with intellectual disabilities. For example, 96% of people with an intellectual disability aged 40+ were involved in one or more social activity at least once a week, or that smoking and alcohol use was low in this population: 7% of people with an intellectual disability smoke and 62% never drink alcohol.

On the downside, however, 85% of people aged 40+ with an intellectual disability were sedentary or under-active and almost three out of four people (74%) have poor bone health.

Working in later life can have a significant influence on income levels and can be an indicator of better health and wellbeing, however indicators for Irish Travellers aged 40+ from Census 2016 show an employment rate of just 13%.

88% of older Irish Travellers have access to a piped water supply, and 56% of this group have good self-rated health (compared to a national average of 80%).

However, 58% of Irish Travellers aged 40+ have a chronic disease and almost a third report difficulty dressing, bathing or moving around the home – an indicator of disability.

The report, monitoring trends and changes in the participation levels, health, and security of older people in Ireland, is a key deliverable of Sláintecare and marks another completed action as part of the 2019 Sláintecare Action Plan.

On a national level, for adults aged over 56 years:
– social participation in Ireland continues to be high, with 82% socially active on a weekly basis
– the volunteering rate has increased to 41% and is among the highest in Europe
– the rate of participation in formal education and training has increased to 9%

For healthy ageing:
– satisfaction with life remains ‘high’ at 86%
– 62% of the over 65s received a flu vaccination, below the national target of 75%
– BreastCheck screening rates are on target with 83% of those eligible being screened
– the rate of polypharmacy (the percentage of adults taking 5 or more medications) has not changed at 32%
– rates of low physical activity (39%) and obesity (33%) have not changed
– new indicators for end of life care show the levels of unmet need for care in the last year of life: 30% for allied health care services, 15% for community care (15%), and 16% for home help.

For security:
– 72% feel safe in their local area when out alone at night
– 65% feel a strong sense of neighbourhood social cohesion
– only 10% have difficulty accessing recreational or green areas
– the percentage of households with a person aged 65+ who have difficulty keeping their homes adequately warm has halved since 2013, and at 5% is among the lowest in Europe

Speaking on the day, Minister Daly said: “Ireland’s population is rising and ageing, making it even more important that we understand how we age so that we can support people to age well. This understanding is fundamental as we all work together to deliver Sláintecare, which focuses on prevention and population health initiatives to support people to live independently in their own community for as long as possible.

“The second National Positive Ageing Indicators Report is a significant tool for Government, for Local Authorities, NGOs and indeed, society as a whole, in assessing how it feels to age in Ireland today. This report is one part of a wider approach to positive ageing for in Ireland and an important platform for the voices of older people.

“However, as everyone here this morning will acknowledge, much work needs to continue, including the HSE’s development of a National Traveller Health Plan, to realise the goals of the Positive Ageing Strategy. These goals are still relevant today. Equipped with the evidence and insights illustrated by these reports I encourage us all to do what we can to make ageing in Ireland a safe, engaging and fulfilling experience.”

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

Read the Positive Ageing Indicators for Ireland report, and those for Travellers and people with an intellectual disability here.

A commitment to this type of monitoring is part of both the National Positive Ageing Strategy (2013) and Healthy Ireland, and monitoring outcomes can be used to support good planning and policy and strategy development for population ageing in Ireland in a meaningful and person-centred way, now and into the future.

Further, the report launched today contains two new developments:
– new indicators relating to healthy ageing that fill indicator gaps identified in 2016
– supplementary indicators for two groups in Irish society who were not sufficiently represented in the indicator set in 2016: Irish Travellers and people with an intellectual disability (ID).

Together, these reports are the result of research collaboration between The Department of Health through the Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative, The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), IDS-TILDA, the intellectual disabilities supplement to The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, and Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre. Further, and since 2015, almost 500 citizens have engaged with the Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative to develop the positive ageing indicators and supplementary indicator sets.

The report provides a comprehensive national profile of the participation, health, and security of older people in Ireland in 2018 and identifies areas which have improved, and areas where there has been little or no change since the last report.

The Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative

The Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative (HaPAI) was established to play a key role in the implementation of Goal 4 of the National Positive Ageing Strategy (NPAS, 2013): Support and use research about people as they age to better inform policy responses to population ageing in Ireland. HaPAI is a joint national programme led by the Department of Health with The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Age Friendly Ireland Programme.
HaPAI commenced in 2015 with the purpose of completing research activity in three areas:

– Development of national indicators of older people’s health and wellbeing, leading to the publication of a biennial report on the health and wellbeing of older people in Ireland
– Establishment of a research fund to commission targeted additional research to fill identified data gaps required to cover all indicators, relevant to the design or configuration of future services and supports for older people, and
– At a local level, developing indicators using either national data broken down to the county level where possible, or additional data collected locally and published in a series of county reports in selected counties.