Sustainable Ageing is a Major Policy Challenge for the Future

Monday, 5 March, 2018: The Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, recently addressed the current ageing policies in Europe, which are narrowly focused and overlook the diversity of our ageing populations, at a European policy seminar in Brussels, hosted by the COST-funded research network on Reducing Old Age Social Exclusion in Europe (ROSEnet).

The United Nations has said population ageing is set to become one of the most significant social transformations of this century. Globally, the population aged 60 and over is growing faster than all younger age groups.

Focusing on different forms of social exclusion related to older age, ROSEnet, an innovative networking partnership of individuals, including researchers, older people and policy stakeholders from 41 countries, involving over 135 members, asked participants at the seminar to consider the ways in which current policy can tackle exclusion in later life across Europe.

With an opening address by Ana Carla Pereira, Directorate General of employment, social affairs and inclusion at the European Commission, speakers at the seminar presented new developments in research and policy. These highlighted the steps necessary to improve social and civic participation in later life. The seminar was closed by Marian Harkin, MEP and Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on ‘Active Ageing, Intergenerational Solidarity and Family Policies’.

Professor Kieran Walsh, Chair of ROSEnet and Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, highlighted: “With continuing social and economic uncertainty, it is critical that European public policy reflects the needs of a growing, and diverse, older population. Some older people experience exclusion, which can impact on their ability to participate as full members of European societies.

3rd-rosenet-european-policy-seminarNew developments in research and policy were presented at the seminar, highlighting the steps necessary to improve social and civic participation in later life:

  • Policy aimed at reducing social exclusion in later life should take account of the ways in which exclusion affects different parts of people’s lives.
  • There is a need to be cognisant of how different risks factors for exclusion can be associated with different life-course experiences such as transitions into ill health, or poverty, and different socio-economic demographic characteristics.
  • Developing measures that capture why older people experience lower levels of participation and difficulties in accessing resources and services will help to inform the more effective design and implementation of interventions.
  • Efforts to address old-age exclusion are likely to be more impactful if inclusion mechanisms are relevant to older people’s lives and opportunities, and target different forms of exclusion (not just economic dimensions).
  • The characteristics of different contexts need to be considered when designing measurement approaches, setting policy targets and creating policy interventions.
  • Factoring in age-related vulnerabilities when designing measures of exclusion, developing new interventions, and identifying when to intervene, will help create more effective ways of reducing exclusion for many older adults.

Drawing on state-of-the-art research and policy perspectives, the seminar brought together key European stakeholders and researchers, who are at the forefront of policy analysis, innovation and implementation. The seminar demonstrated the benefits for policy of recognising the contributions of older people to European society.

ROSEnet (Reducing Old-Age Exclusion in Europe is an innovative networking partnership between policy stakeholders, researchers and older people from 41 countries, involving over 135 members.