Age & Opportunity marked its 21st birthday today, Wednesday 1 December 2010, by publishing a research paper ‘Well into Older Age’ commissioned from the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology.
'Well into Older Age' by Dr Áine Ní Léime and Professor Eamon O’Shea of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG), National University of Ireland, Galway was commissioned by Age & Opportunity to review the research about the benefits that flow from encouraging participation in society by older people. The report finds that Age & Opportunity's programmes contribute to attaining the high-level goals and recommendations set out by the United Nations and the World Health Organisation in relation to ageing and ‘Active Ageing’.
‘Interest in age and ageing in Ireland has never been higher,’ says Professor O’Shea, describing Age & Opportunity as an organisation which ‘has been bold and imaginative in terms of both vision and values, while remaining focused on the practicalities of performance in terms of maximising opportunities for as many older people as possible…’
Catherine Rose, CEO of Age & Opportunity, ‘It is wonderful to reflect on twenty-one years of achievement. Age & Opportunity is at the forefront of a groundbreaking movement towards a better quality of life and a more positive image of older people and the process of ageing. We’re looking forward too with the ‘Well into Older Age’ report which puts our work in an international context. It shows the value of promoting participation by older people in all areas of life. Now more than ever it makes sense to include older people in all aspects of Irish life, ensuring their health and well being and creating communities where people are better connected and more involved with networks of support’.
‘Well into Older Age – Age & Opportunity and the Evidence: What research says about the value of promoting participation of older people’
by Dr Aine Ni Leime and Professor Eamon O’Shea, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUIG.
The research indicates that:
§ Promoting increased physical activity among older people can lead to substantial savings in health and long-term care costs because of the physical and psychological health benefits it confers
§ Engaging in creative arts programmes, both in the community and in care settings, can lead to improvements in older people’s physical and mental health and may have benefits in terms of social cohesion
§ Psycho-social programmes (like Age & Opportunity’s Ageing with Confidence programme) may also lead to mental and physical benefits to older participants
§ Age & Opportunity’s programmes succeed in providing older people with increased opportunities to participate in physical and cultural activities, and potentially contribute directly to the goals set out by the World Health Organisation and the recommendations of the United Nations in relation to ‘Active Ageing’ and ‘Healthy Ageing’ and to the national goals for health promotion
Assessment of Age & Opportunity’s Work
§ Where programmes have been evaluated, it is clear that participants and facilitators have derived physical, psychological and social benefits from taking part (Go for Life, Bealtaine, Creative Exchanges and Ageing with Confidence);
§ Participant feedback suggests that the anti-ageism and advocacy programmes of Age & Opportunity also have a positive impact on participants and on breaking down ageist attitudes in society
Some of the Recommendations
§ The health and social benefits associated with Age & Opportunity’s physical activity, arts and psycho-social programmes provide a rationale for funding for this work into the future
§ The proposed new National Positive Ageing Strategy should set out policies specifically geared to promote the health, confidence and social inclusion of older people and to maximize their capabilities in the arts, in physical activity and voluntary activity as demonstrated by Age & Opportunity