'We are not the future, so I feel we are not listened to.'
- 50% of older people agreed that people make negative assumptions about them because of their age.
- 60% of older people are aware of instances where older people have been treated with less dignity and respect when accessing services because of their age.
- Older patients are less likely to be referred for surgical intervention for cancer, heart disease and stroke.
- Up to 50% of older people in residential care have clinically severe depression, yet only 10%-15% receive any active treatment.
- Older people often pay higher premiums or may not be able to access cover at all for car or travel insurance.
'I would like to see all the government agencies working together to give me the support I need to live at home for as long as possible.'
We want a world where older people are valued as equal citizens and are active participants in society, respected for their experience and the contribution they make to their family and community.
Why this matters?
Older people contribute to the economy each year through work, caring and volunteering but face barriers including outdated and ageist perceptions of older age, poor transport links, particularly in rural areas, and digital exclusions which prevent many from having a fulfilling, independent later life.
Older people in Northern Ireland experience ageism, inequality, discrimination and breaches of their human rights in a number of ways. This includes not being given adequate opportunity to participate in decisions about their life; inequality of access to a range of services including health and social care services, financial services, facilities for transport and travel, or retail services; abuse and neglect.
Age NI has campaigned for over 13 years to secure the extension of age discrimination legislation to goods, facilities and services and believe that this is vital to obtaining effective protection and promotion of the rights of older people in Northern Ireland. In contrast, age discrimination legislation is already in place in GB and the Republic of Ireland. Older people are increasingly concerned and frustrated with the lack of progress made on extending age discrimination legislation to goods, facilities and services.
The publication of the Active Ageing Strategy in January 2016, while welcome, is only the first step in delivering positive outcomes for all older people, including older people with multiple identities based on ethnicity, gender, community background, sexual orientation, or disability. The 11 Sub Regional Networks supported by Age NI are connected to over 2000 older peoples’ groups, reaching out to almost 70,000 older people across Northern Ireland. Age sector networks and groups strengthen the voice of older people and provide a range of essential services including befriending, good morning calls, luncheon clubs, advice and support services, physical activity clubs, arts projects, and networking opportunities – all vital to the delivery of the outcomes identified in the Active Ageing.
The creation of Age Friendly communities is a welcome and potentially significant development, as the new Councils consider the importance of the physical and social environment in ensuring “good” places to age with safe and easy access to services, cultural and leisure facilities, transport and shopping; increasing opportunities for older people to be involved and connect to each other and their local community.
We want to see:
- Older people’s rights being upheld and a broader recognition of the diversity of older people and their contribution to society
- The involvement of older people and the age sector in monitoring and evaluating the impact of the Active Ageing Strategy.
- A commitment to resource and co-ordinate the development of Northern Ireland as an Age Friendly region.
What needs to happen now:
- The introduction of legislation extending age discrimination to goods, facilities and services
- The publication of a robust, fully funded Active Ageing action plan, with ambitious targets, effective monitoring and accountability arrangements, and the collection of baseline data
- An Age Discrimination Review of all aspects of health and social care.
- Active involvement of older people and the age sector in the development of Age Friendly Communities across Northern Ireland.
Next: Ageing at the heart of government policy and action