80 people joined Broadcaster George Hook in The Malton Hotel, Killarney to debate growing old in Ireland. With our population rising and figures projecting 800,000 people over the age of 65 by 2021, Bluebird Care hosted an event to discuss planning for an ageing population.
Photos by Don McMonagle
The main issues debated were community policing with Sgt. Jim Foley and Diarmuid Cronin of Muintir Na Tire; Social engagement and active ageing with Peter Kavanagh, Active Retirement Ireland and Philip O'Reilly, Respond Housing; and the impact of austerity on older people by Eamon Timmins of Age Action and Susie Hall from the Alliance of Retired Public Servants.
Some of the key issues raised were:
- Middle class families are being hurt by austerity and are facing homelessness and are leaning on elderly parents for financial, childcare and even housing supports according to Philip O'Reilly of Respond Housing.
- When you turn 65 your input into society should not end - age is merely a number and social interaction is vital after retirement. Studies show that you are 4-7 times more likely to have a stroke or a heart attack in the first year after retirement so social interaction and activity is vital. Studies have also shown that minding your mental health and keeping your brain active can reduce incidences of dementia according to Peter Kavanagh of Active Retirement Ireland.
- Age Action reported that the Government are considering altering the Free Travel Scheme for over 65's in this year's budget. Age Action are lobbying Government on this trying to prevent any negative changes.
- Susie Hall of the Alliance of Retired Public Servants said the Government have hit the most vulnerable in society with their austerity measures. Older people should not have to suffer as they have spent a lifetime paying taxes and giving service to the state.
- Diarmuid Cronin of Muintir na Tire said older people should look at all risks relating to home security. He also encouraged them to consider getting a social alarm that is monitored 24/7/365.
- Sgt. Jim Foley spoke about simple ways to protect your home like securing windows and doors, cutting overhanging trees and hedging and lighting up your house and outdoors to prevent intruders.
One audience member, 93 year old Bernie McMonagle declared, "In Kerry we don't like to be referred to as senior citizens, we rather 'recycled teenagers.' This set the positive tone for the evening which will feature in an online video shared on bluebirdcare.ie.