Active Ageing: MoPact Leaves Us with Food for Thought
This month, the MoPAct Project, in which AGE was a partner, drew to an end. The research project had the objective to provide the research and practical evidence which enables to make longevity an asset for social and economic development in Europe. Research results covered many disciplines, ranging from econonometrics to Biogerontology, from long-term care to employment of older people, from technical developments to social participation of older people.
In November 2016, the project organized its final conference in Brussels to present the main findings and to prompt a discussion on the steps required to fulfil the promise of active ageing. Among the key speakers, MEP Heinz Becker appealed for making it mandatory for EU member states to learn from each other and improve their policies via ‘bench-learning’. AGE Platform Secretary General, Anne-Sophie Parent, stressed the importance of fighting ageism, looking at the gender aspects of ageing and health policies and taking a life-course perspective in all policies.
To realise active ageing in 20 years, action has to start now
The leading partners, working on eight different scientific themes, were in Brussels to present the main findings and suggested policy recommendations in order to increase the Healthy Live Years (HLY) of European citizens and take actions where needed. Indeed, as stated by Professor Alan Walker, “It takes more or less two decades for institutions to respond and catch up with demographic change. It takes too long. They need to be proactive”.
Depending on the different fields of research, the experts came up with a series of recommendations addressed to policy-makers. Professor Gerhard Naegele for example put forward to adjust existing pension systems through raising retirement ages, linking them to life expectancy, but also to create working conditions that allow for longer working careers. To build effective long-term care systems, Amílcar Moreira suggested “a national social care legislation, with increased coverage and reduced regional variation”. He also advised municipalities to give more attention to social care projects.
Prerequisites: active ageing as a policy for all
These recommendations are nonetheless useless unless citizens start to think in a different way. Professor Asghar Zaidi listed five prerequisites for realising active ageing in Europe:
- start considering older people as agents of change, with experience and rights, like any other citizen;
- active ageing is a right to all, and not just reserved to the elites;
- active ageing is a life course perspective and should be implemented as soon as possible in a preventive manner;
- active ageing is a multidimensional process that includes physical activity, social engagement, independent living and security; and
- enabling age-friendly environments for active ageing for a very diverse population.
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