How to work on ageing as a local authority? AGE moderated a panel of good practices
AGE moderated a discussion around local projects for ageing during a meeting of Interreg programmes in Antwerp. Good examples of projects around social inclusion and isolation, informal carers, neurogenerative diseases and employment of older persons were presented during the discussion. User involvement and dissemination emerged as being crucial to make projects a success.
The discussion ‘Inclusive Growth on the Road’ was organised by InterAct, a service provider to different Interreg programmes. Interreg supports projects funded by the EU’s cohesion policies to improve the situation of regions located along internal EU borders.
A comprehensive project, Senior Activ’, by the Moselle region was presented, which aims at the full inclusion of older persons into society. The project worked with frail or socially isolated older persons or caregivers to adapt homes and dwellings to their needs, to support volunteering and participation of older people and to support carers and older persons struggling to maintain their autonomy. An innovative aspect was the creation of a ‘Recylotheque’ with medical equipment or technical aids that are used for short periods of time.
A completely different kind of project is called ‘Herinneringen’ (memories) and is pursued along the Dutch-Belgian cross-border region. The aim is to develop fundamental and applied medical research into age-related diseases such as dementia, using biomarkers and working with cohorts of patients. This allows to develop answers to prevent the onset of age-related diseases through lifestyle interventions, such as healthy environments, healthy eating or exercise.
A-P/Réseau-Service works along the French/Belgian border to support care professionals and informal carers through training and the creation of social networks. The project works closely with associations of informal carers and created a cross-border community around long-term care. A special focus was put on avoiding burnout of informal carers, a major risk facing informal carers.
The ‘Road 67’ project was funded by ESF and took place in Flanders. Its aim is to reinclude older jobseekers into the labour market. The project worked closely with employers to identify jobs for which no applicant can be found and reorganise them through job-carving, so that older jobseekers could fill these temporary posts after following some training. This allowed older persons to add a couple of working years to their career, as a bridge before pension age.
These projects show that ESF and Interreg funds can be used by local authorities to support active and healthy ageing. AGE took the opportunity to highlight the existence of the ‘Covenant on Demographic Change’, an organisation within which cities and regions, research institutes, NGOs and industry can exchange good practices in the creation of age-friendly environments. The Covenant is affiliated to the World Health Organisation’s global network of age-friendly cities and communities.