Age Action today launched a booklet on the lived experience of growing older in Ireland which highlights the wide ranging impact which austerity is having on older people.
“The booklet explores the difference between the official poverty figures in Ireland and the actual poverty on the ground as experienced by older people,” Age Action senior policy officer Naomi Feely said. “It looks at factors such as gender, disability, living alone and geographic location and the impact they have on older people who are struggling.”
The launch of Growing Older in Ireland, which was developed in conjunction with members of Age Action, is part of a range of activities taking place this week to mark the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17).
“In developing this booklet we wanted to illustrate the lived experience of growing older in Ireland and the impact that austerity has had on older people. While there are lower official poverty levels among older people and it is often lauded that the core rate of the state pension has been retained, the reality is this only tells part of the story of older people’s experience of the recession” according to Ms Feely.
The cumulative effect of - changes to income thresholds for the medical card, the decimation of the household benefits package, an increase in prices and the introduction of new stealth taxes have had a catastrophic impact on older people’s incomes and their standard of living.
‘We consistently hear from our members that they are struggling to make ends meet, often choosing between turning on the heat on a cold winter’s evening or buying enough food for the week. From our interactions with members it is clear they have been badly hit by the recession yet this appears missing at times from the public debate” Ms Feely continued.
It is essential that all factors contributing to poverty are fully understood by policy makers and wider society, if poverty is to be eradicated.
The booklet also highlights the importance of solidarity amongst the generations and also with those older people experiencing poverty in other parts of the world.
Ms Feely explained, “When we are discussing policy changes with our members they are very clear about ensuring that it is not just their rights that are protected but also the rights of future generations of older people. We support the development of an International Convention on the Rights of Older People which is being considered by the UN which could ensure all older people are entitled to an adequate standard of living”.
“Changes introduced in Budget 2015 will provide some compensation to older people but realistically the level of cuts that have been introduced over the last number of years means that these changes may have little of no impact for many older people”, Ms Feely concluded.
Speakers at the launch will include Dr Noelle Cotter, public health development officer (policy), Institute of Public Health, health journalist June Shannon and Healthy Food for All coordinator Sinead Keenan.
- “Growing Older In Ireland” can be downloaded via the link below
- The United Nations recognises October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It has become a key rallying point for a growing number of citizens and organizations from all backgrounds, in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty.
- This publication has been funded by the Department of Social Protection under the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 17th October 2014 Public Awareness Initiative. A number of other activities are taking place today and tomorrow to mark the occasion.