How have we supported Older People so far?
It is estimated that by 2041, people aged over 65 will account for 22% of the population in Ireland, compared to some 11% today. A society can be judged by how it takes care of its older people. Crucially it should also be judged by how active and engaged older people are with civic society.
We, alongside our generous donors, have supported the rights of older people since we were founded. We recently set up a dedicated long-term philanthropic fund focussed on this area called The Older Persons’ Fund. This has been set up with an initial investment of €3 million, €1 million from us and €2 million from our partner The Atlantic Philanthropies.
Its twin priorities are to empower older people to speak up for what they want and need and to champion older people’s participation as active citizens in their communities.
Over €250,000 has been awarded to CRAOL, the organisation for community radio stations. The funding was used to train a number of older people as broadcasters and empower them to represent themselves on the airwaves. In addition, other organisations who have received support include Age Action Ireland, Age and Opportunity, Older Persons Network and Alzheimer Society of Ireland.
In the longer term, the Fund will also support activities that address older people’s social exclusion including loneliness and isolation.
Refelctions from CRAOL
"In Tipperary Mid West the programme makers are determined to campaign on the pensions issue. They want an increase in the living alone allowance to support people in the day-to-day expenses of running a home on their own. But in parallel they also want to see an end to the compulsory retirement age of 65. Why should older people be prevented from continuing to contribute to the workforce if they wish to?"
CRAOL Community Radio
Older People in Ireland
We produce the internationally recognised VitalSigns report. This takes the pulse of the nation and assesses the burning issues of the day. When it came to Older People, we consulted with a number of organisations and older people on their concerns and some key findings included:
- Older people are disadvantaged in two main ways, income and healthcare. This is due to a lack of secondary income support (e.g. fuel allowance cut), coupled with increased pressures on expenditure. Upwards of 85% of those over 65 own homes, and they are also badly hit by property taxes. There has also been a 500% increases in prescription charges.
- State pensions constantly fall short of targets set in the Pension Framework of 2010. The latest CSO figures show three consecutive years of increasing poverty levels, in both the at-risk poverty measure as well as the consistent poverty measure amongst older people.
- Access to transport is an especially large problem in rural communities, and travel passes often can’t be used due to lack of public transport in the area. There has also been a large increase in number of older people having trouble keeping a car on the road due to rising insurance premiums.
- There also is more focus needed on backing lifelong learning as it’s one of the best ways for older people to self-learn into their sixties and seventies. However, the challenge is that the government’s approach to lifelong learning ends at the age of 64.
How can you help
We need to strengthen The Older Persons’ Fund so it can invest in the areas of poverty and social exclusion. There are a number of well run programmes in Ireland targeting the elderly community but what’s missing is the proper infrastructural support around these issues.
By building the fund, we and our generous donors can continue to support older people to advocate and represent themselves in order to address policy issues such as pension cuts and removal of important state allowances.
We need to make sure the older people in the community are heard and respected.
- There are a number of support systems/programs available for the elderly community, such as the Go for Life program (Age and Opportunity), and Age Action programs. There are however, existing issues in building intergenerational support. The programs are there but they lack the proper support system.
- Build up the Older Persons’ Fund to continue to support older people to advocate and represent themselves in the local areas and at a national level in order to solve some of the policy issues including pension cuts and removal of important state allowances.
Visit our Giving section to explore how you can strategically fund the rights of older people in Ireland. You can support the Thematic Fund immediately or leave a gift in your will. The choice is yours.