EU ministerial conference discussed autonomy in older age with a focus on the prevention of falls

The Ministerial Conference on “Enhancing Cooperation to Prevent Loss of Autonomy Caused by Falls, held on 27 January by the French Presidency to the Council of the European Union was for AGE platform Europe an opportunity to remind the multi-factor dimension of autonomy in old age and the complementarity of actions of all stakeholders. We also called on member states for a comprehensive response to ageing, building on the work done by the previous EU presidencies.

FR_EU_Presidency-logo In his intervention, AGE Secretary-General, Maciej Kucharczyk, welcomed the commitment of the current EU Trio of the French, Czech and Swedish Presidencies to continuing member states’ reflection on how to make ageing policies more relevant and effective for older people both at national and European level.

During the conference, the various panels of experts, scientists and healthcare professionals from the EU examined the causes and consequences of falls in older age, as well as solutions to address this widespread problem affecting older people’s physical, social and mental conditions. On this basis, the EU ministers in charge of ageing and social affairs discussed how to improve European cooperation with regard to preventing the loss of autonomy as either a cause or a consequence of falls.

Our Secretary General recommended applying the following principles to promote the autonomy in old age:

  1. Changing the discourse on ageing in order to combat prejudices and stereotypes about older people and the discrimination they face; Ageing well is directly linked to the principle of equal opportunities, which in turn tends to be hindered by negative ageist stereotypes that impacts our independence, both in terms of physical or mental health and our participation in society.
  1. Taking into account the life-course principle in all policies in order to provide responses that are commensurate with the needs of older people recognised in all their diversity and multiple life experiences; This approach is essential to combat socio-economic inequalities, and to better understand the support systems needed by people throughout their lives, particularly during periods of transition.
  1. Promoting ageing with dignity and in good health and the key role of age-friendly environments; this should mean adding well-being, happiness and fulfilment to the many years we now live in enabling older people to be and do what they enjoy most. The concept of Age-Friendly Environments, as proposed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) should support this goal.

In his conclusions, Maciej Kucharczyk invited EU Ministers in charge of social affairs and ageing issues to pay a particular attention to the issue of long-term care, which should not be seen as an end in itself, but as a means to preserve or achieve a good quality of life that can support the person’s autonomy. Read more on AGE vision on long-term care.

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