Comment: Positive Ageing

People sitting with folders

“I will call on the Government to make implementation of The National Positive Ageing Strategy a priority action.” 

We are living longer. But do we want those extra years if they are to be spent in poor health? In Ireland the number of years a man can expect to live in poor health rose from 9.5 in 1999 to 14.7 in 2007 for a women (increase is from 11.3 years to 16.8 years).

Globally 1 million people turn 60 every month. The Island of Ireland currently has 1 million people aged over 60. Life expectancy in Ireland for men is 76.8 years and 81.6 years for women. Life expectancy at 65 is rising faster in Ireland than anywhere else in the EU.

While population ageing presents challenges it also presents opportunities. Older adults are an underused and undervalued resource. We can prevent and reduce disability, chronic disease and premature mortality as people age through policies and practices to promote positive ageing and reduce associated lifestyle factors. Ageing is not just about ill-health.

Ageing is not just an older person’s issue. Ageing is not something that suddenly happens at 60 – the ageing process begins the day we are born. Everything that we do across our lifespan influences how healthy our later life will be. Lifestyle choices can offer protection or increase risk of poor health.



The NPAS Implementation plan should include:

  • Appointment of a Cabinet-level Minister for Older Persons with responsibility to implement NPAS
  • Translation of the goals and objectives of the strategy into actions on the ground
  • The development of key deliverables
  • The development of timelines and performance indicators
  • The specification of ‘direct responsible individuals’ across Government and wider civil society

The National Positive Ageing Strategy (NPAS) is a commitment in the Programme of Government. The Strategy is a high level document outlining Ireland’s vision for ageing and older people and the national goals and objectives required to promote positive ageing.  It is an over-arching cross-departmental policy that will be the blueprint for age related policy and service delivery across Government in the years to come but a strategy has no value unless it is adopted and implemented. When the NPAS strategy was published in April 2013, Government Departments were given lead responsibility for priority actions and an implementation plan was promised (p. 47) but has not yet been delivered. If I am elected to the 25th Seanad I will call on the government to implement and deliver the National Positive Ageing Strategy for all people ageing in Ireland, including people ageing with lifelong disability.

Delivery of the NPAS could genuinely make Ireland the best place to grow old in.

National Positive Ageing Strategy Goals

Goal 1 Remove barriers to participation and provide more opportunities for the continued involvement of people as they age in all aspects of cultural, economic and social life in their communities according to their needs, preferences and capacities

Goal 2 Support people as they age to maintain, improve or manage their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Goal 3 Enable people to age with confidence, security and dignity in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.

Goal 4 Support and use research about people as they age to better inform policy responses to population ageing in Ireland.

Cross Cutting Actions

  • Combat Ageism
  • Improve information provision