National ageing focal points from across the UNECE region are gathering in Geneva for the Fourth meeting of the UNECE Working Group on Ageing on 21-22 November 2011. Active ageing and quality of life in old age will be the focus of a special in-depth discussion with latest research insights presented by Prof. Dr. Clemens Tesch-Römer, Head of the Berlin-based German Centre of Gerontology. Member states will share good practice examples and discuss strategies for regional cooperation and national action on active ageing.
With longevity rising active ageing has been discussed as a political concept to enhance quality of life in old age and to use opportunities of older people to continue working, to stay healthy longer and to contribute to society, for example through volunteering. Active ageing generally combines good health, good physical and cognitive functioning and societal participation.
Policies for active ageing
In his study Prof. Tesch-Römer advocates for investments into active ageing at three levels - at the early stages in the life course, at later stages in adulthood and investments into societal frameworks for active ageing:
- Early investments in education status during childhood and adolescence have positive effects on health, social integration and participation in late adulthood.
- Education policies need to include health related knowledge and skills. Interventions for health, integration, and participation in late adulthood - such as physical activity, healthy diets, screening and avoiding risk behaviours - are able to change ageing trajectories.
- Finally, societal investments in active ageing concern opportunities for education, participation in the labour force and civil organizations and social security, health care and long-term care systems.
To provide opportunities for life-long learning, institutions and funding schemes need to be in place. Social security systems need to provide protection against social risks and poverty in old age. Active ageing policies should consider incentives for employees to retire later and for employers to hire and keep older workers. Volunteering opportunities are important to transfer skills and to ensure social integration. Health systems have to ensure good access to health care and care policies should give older persons and their families the choice of care, combining family and professional services. Information technology and innovative forms of residential accommodation can help to ensure independent living in old age. Strategies to enhance social integration need to take into account new diverse forms of families and private networks. Finally, avoiding purely negative and purely positive images of ageing may help to build more inclusive societies that embrace both the potentials and risks of old age.
A broader understanding of active ageing
Research shows that investments into active ageing may delay the onset of chronic illness and disability. However, a substantial cohort of the oldest old will continue to need support because of multi-morbidity. Promoting an active ageing approach therefore needs to avoid discriminating against older persons who are no longer active and healthy. A one-sided focus on active ageing should not lead to the exclusion of frail older people. Ageing needs to be embraced in its diversities within countries and across the region.
2012 European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations
Discussions about active ageing strategies within the UNECE Working Group on Ageing take place on the eve of the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, designated by the European Union. The aim of this year is to raise awareness and to encourage policymakers and stakeholders to improve opportunities for active ageing in areas as diverse as employment, health care, social services, adult learning, volunteering, housing, IT services or transport.
More information can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/social/ey2012.jsp?langId=en.
Note to editors
The UNECE Working Group on Ageing
The Working Group on Ageing was established in 2008 as an intergovernmental body reporting to the Executive Committee of the UNECE. Consisting of national focal points on ageing, the Working Group serves as the coordinating body for implementing the 2002 Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing and its Regional Implementation Strategy (MIPAA/RIS). Other topics discussed at its Fourth meetings are capacity building activities, in particular the results of the Road Map for Mainstreaming Ageing in the Republic of Moldova, and a forthcoming Policy Brief on images of older persons. In addition, the Working Group will plan preparations of the Ministerial Conference on Ageing in September 2012 in Vienna.
More information on the UNECE Working Group on Ageing can be found at: http://www.unece.org/pau/age/wg/wg_ageing.html
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
Fourth meeting of the Working Group on Ageing
Geneva, 21 and 22 November 2011
Venue: Palais des Nations, Salle V
Monday, 21 November, 10–10.30 a.m.
- Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda, election of officers
- Report on the work of the Bureau of the Working Group on Ageing
Monday, 21 November, 10.30 a.m.–13.00 p.m. and 15.00-15.30 p.m.
- Preparations for the regional Ministerial conference Ensuring a society for all ages: promoting quality of life and active ageing in 2012, discussion of declaration and its main aspects
Monday, 21 November, 15.30–17.30 p.m.
- Second cycle of review and appraisal of the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing and its Regional Implementation Strategy (MIPAA/RIS): overview of national reports received, discussion of synthesis report.
- The European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research (ECV) on use of available monitoring indicators in preparing national reports and on a draft empirical annex for the synthesis report.
- ECV reports on monitoring indicators related to active ageing.
Monday, 21 November, 17.30–18.00 p.m.
Programme of Work of the WGA: Capacity development:
- Presentation and discussion of the report on the Road Map for Mainstreaming Ageing in the Republic of Moldova (Larisa Rotaru, Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Families)
- Report about capacity development training workshop held in Prague in October 2011.
Tuesday, 22 November, 9.30–10.10 a.m.
Policy briefs with good practice examples:
- Presentation of the draft policy brief on images of older persons, prepared on the basis of member States’ contributions.
Tuesday, 22 November, 10.10–10.30 a.m.
Generations and Gender Programme: update
Tuesday, 22 November, 10.30-12.30 a.m. and 14:30-16.00 p.m.
Quality of life and active ageing’: in-depth discussion:
- Keynote address by Prof. Dr. Tesch-Römer, Head of the German Centre of Gerontology (Berlin)
- Presentations from member States
Tuesday, 22 November, 16.00-17.30 p.m
- Financing of the work programme, reporting to the UNECE Executive Committee and Performance Evaluation of the Subprogramme on Population Ageing, any other business
- Summary and conclusions, closing of the meeting