The new report ‘Ageing in Europe: From North to South’ is looking at key factors of ageing across three EU member states (Finland, Austria and Italy) based on EU-wide statistics and indicators. It also examines how EU countries can better learn from each other.
A webinar was organized by the European Liberal Forum (ELF) and Svenska Bildningsförbundet (SBF) on 10 March to present and discuss the main findings of the report.
Invited to speak at the event on behalf of AGE, Swedish MP Barbro Westerholm underlined that all of us are ageing differently, but that common to us all is the need to feel needed, as part of our society and families. The pandemic and in particular the isolation measures, have put many older persons in front of the question why they live and what is there for them to do. While we need to cope with isolation to prevent the virus from spreading, the consequences of isolation must not be worse than the disease.
Ms Welsterholm also raised key issues linked to the rapid digitalisation of services and the constantly changing digital systems. As techniques develop so fast, it is a challenge to keep up and often older persons have learned a now out-dated technique. To promote digital inclusion in old age we need to provide training resources and technical assistance that are easily accessible. ‘This is a democratic issue’, insisted the AGE expert, who also highlighted the issue of affordability linked to the changing systems and the obsolescence of devices.
On pensions, Ms Westerholm argued that we should leave the doors open for those who wish or need to work beyond official pension ages. “You should not stop people who wish to keep on working. Having a meaningful activity keeps you going. This beneficial both for your health and the welfare systems”.
As individuals, older people have diverse aspirations and needs. Some want to work longer, others don’t. “We need flexible pension systems that allow people to make free individual choices”, adds the Swedish MP.