2012 is European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012). The main objectives of EY2012 are to promote active ageing in employment, facilitate active ageing in the community, promote healthy ageing and independent living and enhance solidarity between generations.

A coalition of organisations, including HelpAge, has called for commitments to mainstream ageing into all relevant EU policies (see petition here and blog article by HelpAge's Sarah Marzouk here).

2012 also marks ten years since the adoption of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) - "the first global agreement which recognises older people as contributors to the development of their societies, and which commits governments to including ageing in all social and economic development policies, including poverty reduction programmes".

The MIPAA makes several recommendations on issues which can improve older people's lives including the promotion of human rights, impeding discrimination; enabling older people to work for as long as they want and can; and equal access to preventive and curative healthcare and rehabilitation (see here). 

On the home front see article in The Irish Times calling for new models of care, particularly with reference to the older population in Ireland. The article followed Third Age's seminar Spaces and Places for Every Generation, celebrating the contribution and diversity of older people in Ireland last week (see press release here). 

Ireland's demographic is ageing, and as Third Age's head of national development Jean Manahan points out, "the need for innovative and new ways of doing things becomes more important. Part of the thinking needed is to question some ingrained attitudes ... Why do we presume that older people do not have the same need for intimacy, for aesthetics, for affirmation?... If we house older people in old workhouses and prefabs, we are saying that is all they are worth. The places and spaces we need when we are older are as important as when we were younger, and as in every stage in life”.

This is a theme echoed in the EY2012 Manifesto for an Age-Friendly European Union by 2020, which calls for shared spaces and homes that promote independent living and participation in society for longer, while increasing opportunities for exchange within and across generations (see here).

We are currently preparing Guidelines for Universal Design Homes for Ireland, commissioned by the Centre of Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) at the National Disability Authority. We have previously delivered many lifetime housing projects, including Great Northern Haven - demonstration project for independent living in Dundalk that forms part of the Netwell Centre research; and universally accessible and adaptable buildings for the Sisters of Mercy community.