Kilkenny has launched Age Friendly County Programme and is proud to be the first county in the southern region to pioneer such a programme. As part of this initiative, it will establish Ireland's first county based Business of Ageing Forum.
The programme was launched by WHO's Head of Age Friendly Cities Programme, Dr John Beard, who was in Ireland especially for this event. The public event to launch the programme took place in Hotel Kilkenny on Friday, 26th March 2010; and was chaired by former GAA President, Nickey Brennan with an address from Minister for Older People, Aine Brady.
The objective of the launch meeting was to kick-start a six month county wide consultation and awareness raising exercise, which will result in the Kilkenny Age Friendly Plan.
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The process is being led by an initial Alliance, hosted by the County Development Board. It will be chaired by Joe Crockett, County Manager and will include the heads of relevant organisations - Anna Marie Lannigan, Interim Assistant National Director PCCC South/Local Health Manager, HSE, Chief Superintendent Michael Mc Garry, An Garda Siochana, Alison Mc Grath, CEO Chambers of Commerce/Business of Ageing Forum, Emer Ahern, Older People's Champion Group, Declan Rice, CEO Leader Partnership and others as well as the Ageing Well Network. These groups have strongly supported this programme and have plans for specific 'age-friendly' initiatives over the next year, which they will outline at the launch.
John Beard, Head of Age Friendly Cities Programme with The World Health Organisation (WHO) argues that this initiative in Ireland is both timely and forward thinking and a critical enabler of realising Ireland's aspiration to be the best country in the world to grow old in. For the first time in the world's history there will be more people over the age of 60 than under the age of 5 by 2045. In Ireland the number of people aged 65 and over is projected to rise from approximately 700,000 to 1.89 million by 2041.
WHO defines an "age-friendly" community as one in which service providers, public officials, community leaders, faith leaders, business people and citizens recognize the great diversity among older persons, promote their inclusion and contribution in all areas of community life, respect their decisions and lifestyle choices, and anticipate and respond flexibly to ageing related needs and preferences.
Where we live, the physical, social and cultural environment, impacts hugely upon how we live. This is true for people of all ages, including older people. In an age-friendly community, policies, programmes, services and infrastructure related to the physical and social environment are designed to enable older people to live in security, enjoy good health and continue to participate in society in a meaningful way.
An age-friendly community benefits people of all ages. Secure neighbourhoods are safe for children, youth, women and older adults. Families experience less worry and stress when their older relations have the services and supports they need. Barrier free buildings and streets enhance the mobility and independence of both younger and older persons with disabilities. The whole community benefits from the participation of older persons in volunteer or paid work and civic activities. Making counties age-friendly is one of the most effective policy approaches for responding to demographic ageing.
The Age Friendly County Initiative can be contacted at: