2013-10-09 16:57:40 - Two All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship winning managers today participated in the launch of the West of Ireland’s first Age Friendly Strategy.
Ger Loughnane and Davy Fitzgerald, accompanied by the Liam McCarthy Cup, joined more than 300 people at Treacys West County Hotel in Ennis for the launch of Clare's Age Friendly Programme.
The multi-agency initiative has been prepared by the Clare Age Friendly County Alliance Board and Clare County Development Board, with the support of the National Ageing Well Network.
Among the actions contained in the plan is an expansion in the number of Voluntary Housing Schemes for older people. The Programme also seeks to make pedestrian crossing times more age appropriate, support the development of community gardens, provide more shelters and better lighting in bus shelters, and host of an annual celebration of the contribution of the county’s older musicians and artists.
newly launched Programme has been developed in the context of the growing international awareness of the need to plan for an ageing population. Since 1950, the average life expectancy at birth increased by 20 years globally and by 10 years in Europe where it is expected to increase a further 10 years by 2050.
The percentage of Clare’s population aged 65 years or over increased only slightly from 12.4% in 1951 to 12.5% in 1981 but to 13.2% in 2011, which is well in excess of the national average of 11.7%. The actual numbers increased by 35% from 10,724 (1951) to 14,519 (2011), while the percentage of the population over 85 years increased from 0.7% to 1.3% between 1951 and 2011 with the actual numbers almost tripling from 635 (1951) to 1,581 (2011).
Speaking at today’s official launch, Mayor of Clare Cllr. Joe Arkins said: “Ageing is a matter that affects us all. As life expectancy increases the onus is on society to adapt in a manner that provides older people with the physical, economic and cultural opportunities to ensure they enjoy the best quality of life. The development of an age friendly society is both urgent and timely. It calls for the same creativity and energy that underpinned the industry-friendly society in which most of us grew up.”
“This strategy sets out the international, national and county-level context within which we aim to achieve a number of outcomes that will facilitate the creation of an age friendly society. I am very pleased that County Clare is playing its part in such a development. I acknowledge that, through their work, those who have gone before us laid the foundation for such a possibility,” added. Mayor Arkins.
Former Clare Hurling Manager Ger Loughnane said he was “delighted to be able to support initiatives that sought to address the needs of older citizens and build an age-friendly society.”
Mr. Loughnane stated: “I wish to congratulate everyone associated with the development of this comprehensive Programme which contains a timely and important strategy for addressing issues relating to Clare’s ageing population. My own mother is a long term resident of Carrigoran Nursing Home and I am more than aware of the challenges that society faces in meeting the needs of our elderly citizens.”
Gerry Kelly, Chairperson of the Alliance Board said: “All the great societies of the world have valued greatly the wisdom and life experience that their elders brought to their communities. We now have the opportunity to harness and develop this in County Clare and by having the key statutory, private and community not-for-profit organisations working together, we can achieve our objectives.”
Mr. Kelly, a former Asst. Garda Commissioner and Garda Superintendent in County Clare, continued: “There is no doubt but that a major socio-political transformation is required to turn what is generally perceived as the crisis of ageing into an opportunity for personal, community and social renewal. Taken together this Strategy and Action Plan are a testament to and a celebration of the positive contribution that a healthier and more active ageing population can make to our community and our society in general.”
Tom Coughlan, Clare County Manager commented: “I am pleased that Clare is playing its part in building an Age-Friendly society in the county and contributing to this work in Ireland and abroad.”
He added: “I recognise the challenge that such a vision presents but it is clear that, as our community ages, we have increased opportunities to draw an older people’s skill, knowledge, wisdom and compassion. While Care County Council has taken a lead in building an action-orientated Alliance Board, I am confident the Chairperson and all Board members are fully committed to implementing this Strategy in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation.