Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Executive policy must tackle the social exclusion of older people

19 February, 2008


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Older People, Armagh MLA Mickey Brady has said that it is a challenge for the Executive to tackle the social exclusion of Older People and address the failures of British government policy.

His call follows a new study from the charity Age Concern found that over a million older people in Britain, including one in five people over 80, are shut out from society and ignored by British Government policy

Mr Brady said

"It is extremely worrying that in a new report by the charity Age Concern it was found that many of our older people are shut out from society and ignored by British government policy. The figures are stark for any society in 2008 and it is an unacceptable situation that many of those are suffering in silence.

"The challenge for the Executive is to tackle the social exclusion of Older People and address the failures of British government policy.

"It's clear that we need to go beyond the statistics and put in place measures to help address those concerns immediately. The study also found that the risk of exclusion increases with age, leaving many older people without access to things such as a decent home, close friends and regular company, stimulating activity and access to local services that most people take for granted.

"Only concentrated and properly funded initiatives in the heart of our communities can help tackle issues such as social exclusion and the day to day realties of being cut off from society highlighted in this study.

"Cross border co-operation is vital on all issues and is particularly relevant to older people. Advocacy for older people is a key way to bring older people back into society Sinn Féin as a party is committed to creating real positive change for all our people and that includes our senior citizens.

"This is the reason why a commissioner for older people is so important in our modern society so that these issues are dealt with and that elderly people are treated on a fair and equal basis to the rest of society." ENDS

Note to Editors

Key research findings of the Age Concern study:

  • 56% of severely excluded people aged over 50 are in poor health.
  • 40% of severely excluded people aged over 50 are lonely.
  • 45% of men and 34% of women over 80 who live alone are lonely, as are 62% of recently bereaved older people.
  • People aged 50-64 are eight times more likely to be severely socially excluded if they rent their home privately than if they own it or pay a mortgage.
  • 25% of people over 80 living in their own homes have significant memory problems - of these, one in four (26%) are severely excluded.

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