European Year of Active Ageing 

“The person is more important than the person’s age”, said Bjarne Hastrup, chair of DaneAge, which represents older people in Denmark. The opening conference of the European Year 2012 took a tour of the challenges and opportunities of an ageing society, from keeping people at work for longer to preventing dependency in old age via working with retired volunteers.

“We all like to feel appreciated”, observes Mona Larsen (SFI, Denmark), who has researched how to retain older workers in the labour market and found that oral agreements between employers and employees are effective. Backing this up with research from the Netherlands, Jan Fekke Ybema (TNO) advises employers to “cherish your older workers” and employees to “tailor your job to your wishes and needs”. Poul Erik Tindbaek described the a3career programme, which organises pre-retirement workshops to talk with older workers about their plans, with some good results for ‘active ageing’: 38% stay longer on the job; 39% improve health habits; 44 % join volunteer organisations.

Preventive home visits are compulsory annually for everyone over 75 in Denmark. Carsten Hendriksen of Copenhagen University has examined its impact and offered delegates some tips for staying healthy for as long as possible: “Have good genes, be a graduate, be employed, avoid chronic diseases and have a close social network.” Prof. Hendriksen’s strongest recommendation was to get more physical exercise.

In England, Manchester is seeking to become an ‘age-friendly city’ by developing new sporting and cultural activities for the over-50s and by making urban spaces more accessible. Fredericia has become a model for other Danish municipalities since it refocused its care services for older people on self-help rather than help, delivering an annual budget saving of around 13%.

This is the first of many conferences and activities on active ageing during 2012. The presentations mentioned above and many others can be found on the website of the Danish Presidency, which co-organised the conference. ESN is a member of the stakeholder coalition for the European Year 2012, which has published a roadmap of its members’ initiatives.

Resources

  • Conference presentations on the Danish Presidency website
  • “How to promote active ageing in Europe: EU support to local and regional actors” (European Commission, Committee of the Regions, AGE Platform Europe), in English, français, deutsch
  • Press release of the EY2012 stakeholder coalition, of which ESN is a member, for the opening conference (English / français)
  • National initiatives and projects for 2012 via the contact persons
  • Stakeholder initiatives for 2012 in the roadmap of the EY2012 stakeholder coalition
  • Good practices in health promotion via the “Healthy Ageing” website and report (EuroHealthNet)