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On United Nations International Day of Older Persons Age Action CEO writes Society Must Collectively Tackle Inequality Facing Older People

Writing in the Irish Examiner on International Day of Older Persons, Paddy Connolly says we need to challenge our view of ageing and overcome the structural barriers to equality for all ages 

ONE of the clearest signs of how much progress we’ve made as a society since Independence is the massive increase in life expectancy. In 1916, average life expectancy was 53 years, now, more than 100 years later, average life expectancy has increased by almost 30 years to 81.61 years — a tremendous achievement.

To reap the benefits of this demographic bounty, we, as a society, need to challenge our view of ageing and overcome the structural barriers to equality for all ages.

To continue reading the op-ed visit Irish Examiner here 

Accumulated Disadvantage Extends into Retirement

The ESRI report published today, 1 October 2019, ‘The ageing workforce in Ireland: working conditions, health and extending working lives’ shows that accumulated disadvantages seen throughout the working life are evident – and often exacerbated – well into retirement, particularly for women and those working in physically demanding roles.

The report notes an increased level of people over 55 years old working in Ireland (up from 10% in 1998 to 20% in 2018), which is well above the OECD average. However, there is wide variance in who is remaining working for longer, and whether that is for choice or necessity. Almost 7% of those aged 55-59 left employment early due to family care, with women five times more likely to have left paid employment early for care duty reasons. Today, one in ten people is a carer in Ireland, with 61% of carers being women. The State needs to value unpaid work and ensures that structural barriers to working, while balancing caring duties, are addressed in order to mitigate against accumulated disadvantage when people, and women in particular, become eligible for a pension.

Additional research published today is an Irish Life report which also notes the impact on women of disrupted labour patterns within the existing pay gap. The report shows that women have an average of 22% less – or €120,000 – in their pension pot at retirement compared to men. This is true even in cases where women are making the same pension contributions as men, and likely reflects the existing gender pay gap and lower wages earned by women.

Simply, the current employment disadvantages will transfer into pension disadvantages. In the context of rising State pension ages, targeted efforts are needed. Government and industry efforts are urgently needed to address the structural barriers that impede women, parents and carers to remain in, or return to, the labour market, if that is their choice.  Measures such as flexible working approaches and hours, targeted employment training interventions and reskilling are some such measures. These will only work in conjunction with the availability of affordable and secure childcare as well as sufficient home care hours available under a statutory scheme.

The journey to equality in older age begins at an earlier age. Both these reports are evidence that disadvantages in our working lives extend into the range of choices available to us all in older age, including access to employment as well as adequate income security.

 

 

Age Action Announces its First In-store Information Clinic as it Joins the Community of Newbridge with the Official Opening of Store Number 8

On Thursday 26th September Newbridge became the official home of Age Action’s newest retail store reflecting the growing presence of the organisation in communities around Ireland.

Age Action’s chain of retail stores play an important role in the organisation’s strategic goal to support people to age in place; not only do the stores provide income to support the work of Age Action but they offer services such as free stock collection and house clearances as well as being a presence in communities where people can gather to listen and learn from each other about what it is like to age in Ireland.

Paddy Connolly, CEO Age Action said “All eight of our stores function as places where people can contact Age Action to find out about our advocacy work and our services. We want our stores to be closely aligned with our work to support and advocate for equality and human rights of all older people and so we are excited to announce Age Action’s first pop-up information clinic which will be held on the first Wednesday of the month in our Newbridge store”.

Hundreds of Events Organised to mark Positive Ageing Week 30 September to 6 October - Ageing in Place

Positive Ageing Week 2019 30 September to 6 October

At Age Action one of our flagship events is Positive Ageing Week (PAW) which celebrates ageing and the contribution and agency of older people. It takes place this year from Sun 30th Sept – Sat 6th October 2019.  Ageing in Place is the theme for PAW 2019 which is about ensuring that people having choice and control over where and how they age; central to achieving this goal is the creation of age friendly environments, including support services, which enable people to remain in their own homes and communities for longer.

This year, Age Action is transforming its shop, on Camden Street in Dublin, into the first Positive Ageing Hub with speakers and events open to the public which will encourage dialogue on what it means to grow old in Ireland and what policies and practices are required to help us to age in place.

During Positive Ageing Week we celebrate United Nations International Day of Older Persons on 1 October which this year focuses on the Journey to Equality. The 2019 theme is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 and will focus on pathways of coping with existing and preventing future old age inequality.  SDG 10 sets to reduce inequality within and among countries and aims to “ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome,” including through measures to eliminate discrimination, and to “empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.”

In addition to the Positive Ageing Hub, over 100 events are being organised at local level by Active Retirement Groups; Nursing Homes; Community Resource Centres; Sports Partnerships; County Councils; Care Organisations; Libraries; Theatres, Galleries, Museums, Schools; Clubs, Societies and Associations for older people. You can find an event near you by checking positiveageingweek.com

 

A Fair Society for All? Listening to the Voices of Older People

Often, inequalities experienced by older people reflect an accumulated disadvantage which can be as a result of factors such as socio-economic status, health, gender, location. How existing inequalities impact on us as we age is something we in Age Action explored through a panel discussion 10 September – A Fair Society For All? Listening to the Voice of Older People – in Croke Park, on the occasion of the Annual General Meeting 2019.

An audience of over 160 people, including members of Age Action and people working in the ageing sector, joined the conversatoin which included a panel disucssion moderated by the CEO Paddy Connolly. The discussion centred on a discussion paper, Equality for All - Older People for Equality, published by Age Action in advance.The  panel set the scene with inputs from Michael Taft, Economist and political economy columnist, Colette Bennett, Policy Analyst Social Justice Ireland, Deirdre Garvey, CEO The Wheel, Ailbhe Smyth, Co-Director of Together for Yes.

Summer Raffle Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Summer Raffle and to all those who supported this year’s campaign. We are so grateful to the many hundreds of people who support us and with your help we raised over €17,000 for our work with older people.

1st

M Kelly

Co Dublin

2nd         

S Rush

Co Dublin

3rd

E Corbett

Co Mayo

Sellers Prize

M Mc Loughlin

Co Mayo

Thank you to all who supported the raffle, this is one of our biggest and most reliable fundraisers, so your support makes all the difference

Taking Pride - celebrating diversity and inclusion

Pride Week runs from June 20th – 30th June is the festival celebrating the LGBTQI+ community. In 3 days time the Pride Parade and March will take place in Dublin on Saturday 29th June and is the culmination of 10 days highlighting the diversity and inclusion of people. Age Action values diversity, social justice and inclusivity.  As an organisation that represents all older people, this includes people who identify as LGBTQI+.

It is only 26 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in Irish law and just over 4 years since the citizens of Ireland voted for marriage equality.  Our older cohort of citizens have witnessed, and led, these changes but some have been left behind and find it difficult to live and identify as LGBTQI+. 

In the UK, a report has just been published highlighting health inequalities among older LGBT people. This builds on previous evidence which shows that older LGBT people have worse outcomes across different aspects of their lives including physical health, loneliness, social isolation, mental health, and experiences of violence. Action is needed to address these health inequalities for older LGBT people through improving the inclusivity of mainstream health and care provision, strengthening the training of health and care staff and enhancing data collection around older LGBT people and their health and care needs. The full report can be viewed at https://ilcuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/ILC-Raising-the-equality-flag.pdf

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion

After the St Patrick’s Day Parade, the second biggest public event on the streets of the capital city is the Dublin’s Pride Parade. The term ‘Pride’ didn’t become popular until the early 1980’s, a tradition established following the Stonewall Riots in New York.

The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBT) community against a police raid that began on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of Manhattan.

The holding of LGBTQ+ events at the end of June was adopted very early in Dublin. In June 1974, 10 people marched from the Department of Justice on Stephen’s Green to the British Embassy to protest the criminalisation of homosexuality, a law that was a hangover from colonial times.

In March 1983, the Dublin Lesbian & Gay Collective held a protest march in response to the failure to commit to prison those convicted of the murder of Declan Flynn in Fairview Park. About 900 people marched from Liberty Hall to Fairview Park. The National LGBT Federation organised the first Dublin Pride Parade which went from Stephen’s Green to the GPO in June of that year.

In 1993 homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland with the passage of the second phase of the bill to decriminalise sexual acts between consenting adults under the Criminal Law Bill (Sexual Offences) in 1993.

Last year over 60,000 people marched in the Dublin Pride Parade. In just a generation, the annual parade and festival has grown from a handful of people to become one of the biggest and most popular events in Ireland.

More to Do

Along the way the laws and constitution of Ireland have been changed and with that the hearts and minds of many of our citizens. But there is still a long way to go.

Discrimination against older LGBTQI+ is the focus of a European funded programme in which Age Action is a participant.  For more details see www.best4older-lgbti.org

If you would like to find out more about Age Action’s work in this area of are interested in taking part in upcoming events around this topic then please make contact with our Lifelong Learning team or email billy.okeeffe@ageaction.ie directly.

Ally2Ally Campaign - LGBT Ireland are running a campaign to raise awareness of their support services.  They are asking people to 'come out' as LGBT Allies and to speak to their friends, family, colleagues and peers about how they can be a better LGBT Ally.  For more information see www.lgbt.ie

To see the full listing of  Pride events happening over the next few days go to www.dublinpride.ie

Home care needs immediate injection of ring-fenced funding of €110 million.

During 2019, over 53,000 people will receive home support services, to a total of 18.2m hours, an increase of 800,000 hours on the 2018 outturn but this is not adequate to meet the needs of people. It is now harder for over 65 year olds to access home care than it was in 2008. There are waiting lists over three months and recent figures show over 6,000 people assessed as in need of home care waiting for an initial service. Less hours per week are being spread more thinly per client with an increase in the provision of 30 minute slots of care. The current funding of home support services by the Government is inadequate and does not reflect the unmet need because people who are waiting for their first assessment are not counted. Without access to home care supports some older people are not realising their rights to housing and adequate healthcare. As a result some people are remaining in acute hospital settings or have no choice but to move to residential care settings, undermining their human right to live with dignity and independence. Age Action believes that home care supports are invaluable to help older people maintain their independence and delay or avoid long hospital stays. It is unacceptable that older people in vulnerable situations, and in particular those with low incomes, are left without needed supports due to HSE budget restrictions. Currently people who cannot access the rationed resources have to pay, if they can afford it, for private care; this is not an acceptable situation. A statutory homecare scheme, which would provide a legislative basis for equitable access to home supports across the country, is not planned until 2021. Age Action believes that a universal home care scheme is a public good and is the collective social responsibility of Government. 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 absence of adequate home supports means that many people are unable to age in place. Despite the fact that it is stated Government policy (e.g. National Positive Ageing Stragetgy, Rebuilding Ireland), Government planning is inadequate at providing services to keep older people in their communities, out of nursing homes, and living with dignity and independence.ENDS

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.”    

95 year old blogger Florence McGillicuddy is the Silver Surfer of 2019

Age Action Silver Surfer Awards Florence McGillicuddy with Ballyroan Boys NS

95-Year-Old Blogger

Receives Overall Award

At

2019 Age Action Silver Surfer Awards

Supported by DCU Age-Friendly University

 

 

 

95 year-old Florence McGillicuddy from Rathfarnham, in Dublin, is the overall Age Action Silver Surfer Award winner. Florence who blogs on GrandadOnline.com was presented with his award in recognition of his contribution to community life through his use of technology, at a ceremony this morning in Dublin City University, who co-sponsored the Awards as part of the DCU Age-Friendly University Initiative.

 

Florence, who also won the Golden IT Award as one of the older nominees, has developed a unique relationship with the children in the local Ballyroan Boys’ School over the past three years through the internet. Florence brings history to life for the young students as he researches historic facts about their city and composes the lesson in an email which the children’s teacher helps the students read. The students have learned about what life was like in Dublin when Florence was growing up and events such as what happened to Nelson’s Pillar, an airplane crash in Terenure, and he even organises school tours to cigarette factories. In turn, the children will write back to Florence in old fashioned handwritten letter format which is a wonderful display of generations coming together and learning from each other.  

 

With half of Irish people aged between 65 and 74 having never used the internet and internet use among those aged over 75 negligible, Age Action organises the Silver Surfer Awards to highlight digital literacy issues amongst older people. For those older people who do get online it has the potential to change their lives, as the Silver Surfer Awards demonstrate, with people participating in the digital economy, accessing public services, discovering new hobbies and maintaining an active role in their communities.

  

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action, said: “Each nominee here today is an inspiration. They are challenging the stereotype of ageing, showing that there is no barrier you cannot overcome to life long learning as they have embraced new technologies, new ways to communicate and combat social exclusion. Access to the internet has the potential to transform lives, enabling us to keep in contact with family and old friends, or to make new ones, to explore new hobbies and interests, even empowering us to start businesses or to use our skills for the benefit of our communities. The Silver Surfers have not only transformed their own lives but, in doing so, they have shown that digital literacy is an important element of positive ageing.”

 

Professor Brian MacCraith, President DCU said: “These awards are a reminder of the hugely positive impact the internet can have on the lives of our older citizens. DCU is particularly pleased to host the tenth annual Silver Surfer Awards, as they resonate with the values of the Age Friendly University initiative, which was pioneered by DCU, and now has more than 50 member universities worldwide.”

 

Seven other awards were presented during the ceremony:

 

 

1.National Silver Surfer Award winner (and winner of the Golden IT Award)

Florence McGillicuddy 

 

Florence McGillicuddy is 95 years of age and is a blogger from Rathfarnham in Dublin publishing Grandadonline.com. Motivated by his love of history and education, he uses his IT skills to research history and record his own reflections on growing up in Dublin which he shares via email with the children in the local Ballyroan Boys’ School. Bringing history to life for the young students has made Flor an integral part of the school community and fostered a rewarding intergenerational learning experience for all.

 

2.Community Champion Award                                                                          

Margaret Culloty  

Margaret Culloty from Firies Co Kerry is 77 years of age and is the County Secretary of Kerry Community Games for the past 23 years. As the National Community Games requires that all participating children be registered online, Margaret has had to learn how to do this for over 3000 children participating in sporting and cultural events at county level.

Margaret faced this challenge with vigour and is now responsible for the coordination of the online Kerry registration system ensuring that all children are registered for their individual or team events at local and National level as well as getting a web page up and running and a Facebook account. She has been described as one in a million and didn't let new technology put her out of the position of County Secretary.

3.Hobbies on the Net

Paddy McAuliffe, Paddy Tobin and Paddy Buckley

‘The 3 Paddy’s’ from Mallow in Co. Cork have learned how to shoot and edit short films, a skill they are now using to preserve a legacy of memories for peoples’ families to be passed on to future generations. They are documenting the memories of older people in their community, editing in photos or the person’s life and locality, to produce a film. The film covers the person’s life story which can then be shared digitally with the wider community and family members.  To date they have recorded the life stories of almost 30 older people in the region.

4.Getting Started Award

Eleanor Lynch

Eleanor Lynch from Cork was profoundly deaf from the age of 40 to mid 60’s but 14 years ago, thanks to advances in medicine and technology, she had a cochlear implant operation. When she was “switched on” Eleanor had to learn how to hear again with the assistance of this new technology.  It took lots of perseverance, but she mastered it and can now communicate fairly easily. After she mastered the implant technology, she had the confidence to learn how to use a mobile phone and now uses a smart phone like a teenager! The laptop has made living alone a lot easier as she does her all banking and pays all her bills online and does not have to go out on wet cold days. Technology and her own bravery and determination has made an amazing difference to Eleanor’s life. 

5.IT Tutor of the Year Award

Sr. Margaret Kiely   

Sr. Margaret is a Sister of Mercy who worked as a principal nurse tutor for 14 years at the Mercy Hospital in Cork.   Following this she trained as an addiction counsellor in MN, USA. She founded Tabor Lodge - a treatment centre in Cork for persons with alcohol, drug and gambling addictions and it was here that she first saw the need for a computerised system.   Following a few lessons she mastered the PC.   Sr. Margaret observed that a number of staff and residents were struggling using smart phones and computers. She sourced funding for a tutor and initially she ran 10 four-week classes with 8 students per class. She is now a volunteer tutor with Age Action and manages the attendance records and presents certificates at the end of the courses.

6.School IT Tutor of the Year Award

Bandon Grammar School  

The students of the Transition Year class in Bandon Grammar School have been tutoring older learners how to get online. At every lesson, the young TY students teach their older learners something new from how to use Google Maps to downloading music, looking up Government websites which are all sites of great relevance and interest to the learners.

The intergenerational nature of the class creates an energetic atmosphere in which to learn. People have remarked that the school break-time is a favourite where the older learners and younger tutors engage in conversation and swap stories.

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