A plan which aims to make County Sligo a great place to grow old was launched recently.
At present 14% of Sligo’s population is over the age of 65, which is higher than the national average of 11.7% and the number of older people in the county is set to grow.
For the first time in history internationally we are seeing more people over 65 than under 5.
In Sligo the number of people over 65 is double the number of people under 5, with 9,043 as against 4,594.
The number of people aged 65 plus will increase by about 250% in the coming decades, while the working age population will start to shrink. The number of very old persons, defined as 80 years and older, will increase by 400%.
At the same time fewer young people will be available to provide support and care.
According to the the Sligo Age Friendly Strategy 2016 – 2020: “Today’s opportunity is to find sustainable solutions to address the challenges linked to population ageing. The vision of making
Ireland the best country in the world in which to grow old will require significant investment to support everyone’s equal and meaningful participation in the social and economic life of their community”.
It states that this can be done through the creation of what the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls age-friendly environments, i.e. the adaptation of our physical and social environments to the various needs of all generations.
In introduction to the strategy, Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Cllr Rosaleen O’Grady says: “There is a consensus that the Age Friendly Programme should focus on a number of key objectives, aimed at enabling people to live full and active lives as they age. This can be achieved by encouraging people to continue to learn, develop and work, to participate in social, economic and public life and to be valued and respected in their communities.”
Council CEO Ciaran Hayes says: “An age friendly county is a place where more and more older people can stay living in their own homes and communities, lead healthy and active lives, get to where they want to go, when they want to go, and are valued contributors to the lives of their communities.” He said this strategy provides an outline of what will be done to improve services and facilities that are currently available. Singer Sandy Kelly officially launched the Strategy at a large gathering of interested parties who listened to speakers outline the Age Friendly Programme and how it will be implemented in Sligo.
An outline of the programme, which is based on a World Health Organisation model, was given by Hugh O’Connor, Chief Executive of Age Friendly Ireland.
The programme covers the themes of: Housing and Home, Transport, Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion, Civic Participation and Employment, Physical Environment and Outdoor Spaces, Community Support and Health Services and Communication and Information.