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World Refugee Day

 Today, June 20th is World Refugee Day. The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018. This is the highest level that UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has seen in its almost 70 years. Data from UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, released this week shows that almost 70.8 million people are now forcibly displaced. To put this in perspective, this is double the level of 20 years ago, 2.3 million more than a year ago, and corresponds to a population between that of Thailand and Turkey.   Today, older refugees make up some 8.5 per cent of the overall population of concern to UNHCR, and by 2050 more of the world will be over 60 than under 12. Older refugees experience an additional burden due to their age and associated conditions. In a report published by the Centre for Policy on Ageing and Age UK, they identified that “the main issues facing older refugees and asylum seekers are low income, the language barrier, the risk of loneliness and a lack of social networks, and possibly a loss of social status”.  Reduced mobility and a high number of chronic medical conditions also greatly impact the life of an older refugee, as adequate and culturally appropriate healthcare is often difficult to access. As well, throughout their time in refugee shelters, older refugees are also more likely to experience social disintegration, the impact of negative social selection and chronic dependency on the resources of refugee shelters. According to the International Federation on Ageing “The contributions of older refugees can have far-reaching impacts on the preservation of the cultures and traditions of disposed and displaced people. The wisdom and experiences of older refugees must be harnessed through formal and informal leadership roles, to improve the welfare of all refugees”. Marion MacGregor, writing for InfoMigrants says “Older refugees can be seen as an asset, rather than simply requiring special care. In many families, it falls to them to look after children so that their parents can work….. Older people are transmitters of culture, skills and crafts that are important in preserving traditions of displaced people. The resilience of older people can help to strengthen communities and they can contribute to positive and peace-building interactions with the local host communities.”    

Age Action Welcomes the launch of the Housing Options for our Ageing Population Policy Statement

Responding to today’s launch of the Housing Options for our Ageing Population Policy Statement, Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation  said;

“This is a welcome joint initiative by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Department of Health because it begins to address the needs of our ageing population in terms of ageing in place.  The commitment to provide real choice to people through a catalogue of housing with supports is welcome, especially the recognition that an ageing population has diverse needs.”

He continued “Age Action believes that we should have a choice to age in place which means the creation of age friendly environments, including the provision of support services locally, which enable people to remain in their own homes and in communities for longer. The wider support needs of people as we age was to be addressed through the National Positive Ageing Strategy which was published in 2013 and is yet to be implemented.”

Budget 2019

Budget 2019

Age Action calls for a fair budget on 9th October that protects older people

Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people, has called on the Government to protect the incomes of older people and to invest in home care.

“Next week the Government must deliver a budget which protects older people, one that recognises the contribution made over decades by more than 600,000 workers, homemakers, carers and entrepreneurs who are now pensioners” said Anna McCabe, Interim CEO, Age Action.

Publishing its top priorities for Budget 2019 the organisation is highlighting the need to increase the state pension to meet the rising costs of living for older people and to tackle inadequate home care provision.

Rising Costs of Living

“Pensioners are increasingly worried about being able to pay their essential bills or of being forced into a nursing home because there are no home supports available” said Anna McCabe, Interim CEO, Age Action.

She went on “A growing number of older people worry about making ends meet in the face of rising costs such as healthcare, energy bills and insurance. Many of these increased costs are solely related to age.”

Older people are slow to benefit from the improved economic climate and are showing a slower recovery from poverty. Cuts made in recent years to income supports such as the Fuel Allowance, the Bereavement Grant and the Christmas Bonus, combined with new taxes and rising prices, are causing many older people to remain at risk of poverty.

Earlier this year hundreds of Age Action members met across the country and agreed their priorities for this year’s budget, which have been costed and published today:

  1. Increase the weekly State Pension by €5 per week to build towards achieving the Government's commitment in the National Pensions Framework of a State Pension set at 35 per cent of average weekly earnings [Cost: €160.9 million]
  2. Increase the cost of the Living Alone Allowance by €3 per week [Cost: €32.8 million]
  3. Reverse the changes introduced in 2012 to the State Pension system reducing the number of bands from six to four [Cost: €73 million]
  4. Increase the Home Supports budget by 26% to begin to meet unmet need. [Cost: €106 million].
  5. As a first step towards reinstating the over 70s medical card, expand the range of services provided by the GP visit card to include prescriptions to those over 70 [Cost: €61.5 million].
  6. Remove the GMS prescription charge for over 70s medical card holders [Cost: €42 - 44 million]

Crisis in Homecare

Age Action today also highlighted the need for investment in supports to enable older people to remain in their homes for longer.

The numbers of home help hours and people in receipt of the service have dropped since 2008, despite the sharp growth in our ageing population.

“Every year 20,000 more people turn 65, and we will need an additional 7.2 million Home Help Hours a year by 2030. This unmet need is particularly worrying given that 6,458 older people were waiting for new and additional Home Support services as of May of this year” said Anna McCabe.

Ireland needs a Statutory Home Care Scheme

“Home help hours and home care packages are simply not available in many parts of the country, with provision of care varying greatly across the regions. This means many older people simply do not have the option of being cared for at home, more families are struggling to cope without home help, and there is more pressure on carers.”

“We need a functioning home care scheme now.”

Along with its key priorities, Age Action also published detailed submissions it made to a number of individual government departments, which are available online at www.ageaction.ie/budget2019 ### For more information contact Corona Joyce 087 968 2449 or advocacy@ageaction.ie

 

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