Louth will be the first age-friendly county in Ireland, and will lead the way for others to follow. It is an exciting time to be involved in this flagship initiative.
The Project was launched in Dundalk in November 2008, by Mr Dermot Ahern, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Before this, Dundalk and its Institute of Technology has led the way as the Irish participants in an international project on Age Friendly Cities sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2007.
The thinking behind this new strategy for the county has been strongly influenced by the WHO Guidelines for an Age Friendly City (which can be applied to communities of all sizes) and the plans developed for Louth are based on the 8-point framework in that document.
What is the thinking behind the strategy? The Louth County Strategy is grounded in sound international research and knowledge, and based on a number of important principles agreed by the partners in the Alliance, including:
- A recognition that older people are critical contributors to our society and a resource, not a burden, to society;
- Communities, that find imaginative ways of capitalizing on the diverse assets of older adults can find ways of addressing many of their complex challenges and providing much needed services;
- A commitment to the direct involvement of older people in deciding priorities, shaping actions and bringing about change;
- An emphasis on improving the physical environment, and the understanding that where we live greatly affects how we live;
- An awareness that age-friendly principles and practice create environments and communities that benefit all age groups, not just older people;
- A linked awareness that everyone has an interest in these developments, because we all hope to be ‘older’ in time, and hope to live in a community and a society that respects, includes and cares for us;
- A determination that Louth will set standards and lead the way for other counties
The plan covers eight specific areas for action to benefit older people, followed by a section on creating the right framework for getting the work done.
The eight areas are:
- Outdoor Spaces and Public Buildings
- Respect and Social Inclusion
- Social Participation
- Communication and Information
- Civic Participation and Employment
- Community Support and Health Services
For more information visit The Netwell Centre website. Based at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), they are developing new ideas that enhance the quality of life and well-being of older people and those who care for them, through more integrated community-oriented services, more sustainable home and neighbourhood design, and more age-friendly technologies.