Future inclusive disability policies will hopefully also address inequalities against older persons with functional limitations

Brussels, 3rd December 2015

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3rd December

On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, AGE Platform Europe draws attention to the specific barriers faced by older persons with disabilities to their full and equal participation in society.

While not all older people are persons with disabilities, the likelihood of acquiring a disability increases with age. According to Eurostat figures (EU-SILC2012) the percentages of people with disabilities range from 44% for the 65-74 age group to 70% for the 85+. However, many EU Member States interpret their obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in a narrow way, creating a divide between those persons who are assisted because of a specific impairment and those who experience functional limitations due to poly- morbidity, frailty or dementia in later years of their life, preventing them from accessing the support they need to live in dignity. As a result, policies that discriminate against older people with disabilities continue to be tolerated across the EU. This includes access to disability benefits, health services, support for independent living, fight against violence and abuse, and others. Moreover, representative organisations of older persons are rarely consulted at EU and national levels in order to ensure an equal application of disability rights across the life course.

“More needs to be done to address the full range of challenges faced by older persons in need of care and assistance, in particular those situations related to ageism and age discrimination. In order to comply with articles 25 and 26 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights the EU should deliver guidelines and explain how the UNCRPD should apply to older people and whether differential treatment of older age groups constitutes age discrimination”, says Marjan Sedmak, AGE President.

In a dedicated toolkit entitled Dignity and Wellbeing of Older Persons in Need of Care – Our shared responsibility, launched on the 3rd December, AGE Platform Europe provides guidance and recommendations to policy makers and practitioners to help them improve their practices to protect the rights of older persons in need of care and assistance. As explains AGE Secretary General, Anne-Sophie Parent: “This toolkit aims to be relevant at all levels and for a wide range of stakeholders who would like to move forward with implementing a rights-based approach to care. It is our shared responsibility to support and promote the dignity and wellbeing of older persons of all abilities”.

Finally, AGE warmly welcomes the launch of the long-awaited Accessibility Act, which is expected to improve accessibility to goods and services across the EU. This is a key instrument for older people’s equal participation in society and we will follow closely the negotiation process to ensure that it reflects the accessibility needs of the ageing population.


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