EEP Group

Kelly highlights valuable contributions of older people to society

Published: Fri, 15 March 2024

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In a recent address from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Seán Kelly, Member of the European Parliament for Ireland South, emphasised the invaluable contributions that older people make to society. Speaking in the debate on “Healthy lifestyle and active ageing in the EU,” Kelly drew attention to the concept of “ikigai,” which defines older people’s sense of purpose and feeling of being needed well into their 100s, particularly exemplified in the blue zone of Okinawa, Japan.

“The European population is ageing rapidly,” Kelly stated. “The number of Europeans aged over 65 will double in the next 50 years, and the number of over 80-year-olds will almost triple.”

Kelly highlighted the urgent need for a shift in attitudes towards ageing, citing the unsustainable nature of current approaches in light of a shrinking labour force. “With a shrinking labour force no longer able to provide for the needs of the growing number of older people, it’s clear that Europe’s current attitudes towards ageing are unsustainable,” he remarked.

Furthermore, Kelly underscored the importance of supporting social services to transition from institutional care to home and community care. “Older people can and do contribute valuably to our society,” he asserted. “By enabling older people with care needs to stay in their homes for as long as possible, their quality of life can be significantly improved, they maintain more independence and we enable them to continue to contribute actively to their communities.”

Kelly expressed hope that the incoming Commission would emphasize this aspect of the European Care Strategy, recognizing the potential for older individuals to maintain purpose and feel needed within their communities.

“They can have purpose and feel needed and we can have ‘ikigai’ in Europe,” he concluded.

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