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Minister launches Fingal Healthy & Positive Ageing Report

elected representatives with Deputy Mayor of Fingal Eithne Loftus, Minister Catherine Byrne, TD, Fingal County Council Chief Executive Paul Reid, Nora Owen, Chairperson of Fingal Age Friendly Alliance, and report author Sinead Shannon, Programme Manager with the Healthy & Positive Ageing Initiative

The Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, TD, today launched the Fingal Healthy & Positive Ageing Indicators Report at a reception in The Atrium of County Hall, Swords.

The Report, which is entitled Fingal Healthy & Positive Ageing 2016, was published as part of a Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative established as a joint programme between the Department of Health, The Atlantic Philanthropies, the HSE and Age Friendly Ireland and as part of the National Positive Ageing Strategy in the Programme for Government.

Among the key findings of the Report was that while only 3.4 per cent of people aged 55-69 years had great difficulty accessing essential services, the figure rose to 16 per cent for those aged over 70. Almost one in five people over 55 reported that a lack of transport causes difficulty for socialising or essential tasks while 20 per cent of those aged over 70 have difficulty carrying out maintenance or upkeep on their homes.

Eighty per cent of those aged 55-69 and 64 per cent of people over 70 say their health is good or very good but 17 per cent currently smoke daily which is higher than the national average of 14 per cent. Over two-thirds of people aged 50+ admitted low levels of physical activity but 82 per cent of people aged 50+ reported high life satisfaction, although almost nine per cent of that group have severe depressive symptoms.

More than two thirds of those aged 55+ meet socially with relatives, friends and colleagues at least once a week. However, six per cent meet people socially less than once a month or never. Almost one in five of those aged between 55 and 69 and 18 per cent of those aged 70+ volunteer at least once a month while 17 per cent of people aged 55+ in Fingal said they experienced negative attitudes or behaviour towards them as an older person.

Minister Byrne said it was one of the best reports she had ever read and added that the establishment of Age Friendly Alliances and Older Persons’ Councils as part of the World Health Organisation’s Age Friendly Cities and Counties Initiative is a very positive development

“It is vital that older people are given a place at the table where their concerns and aspirations can be aired and acted on. We are all thankfully living longer now than ever before and the signs are that this trend will continue into the future,” said Minister Byrne.

The Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, Paul Reid, said: “In terms of Age Friendly actions, Fingal is a model of good practice and has followed through on the commitments made when we signed the Dublin Declaration on Age Friendly Cities and Communities in 2011. As a Council, we have championed the Age Friendly initiative and taken the lead on a number of specific measures for older citizens. While the percentage of older people in Fingal is relatively small now it is set to grow rapidly in the next 15 to 20 years and we need to plan and prepare for this. The Fingal Healthy and Positive Ageing Report provides evidence that will assist us in doing this.”

The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Eithne Loftus, said: “The first five year programme has been completed and the Fingal Age Friendly Alliance has begun the process of developing a new Age Friendly framework for Fingal. Up until now data, specific to older people, was very scarce but now, as a result of this Healthy and Positive Aging Report, we have data that can and should be used as an aid to help development plans for 2017 and beyond.”

The Report contains indicators spanning the whole range of areas identified by the National Positive Ageing Strategy and a copy of the report can be viewed here.

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