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Dementia expert 'angry' at 'ageist' downsizing report


Shocked: Prof Sabina Brennan

Shocked: Prof Sabina Brennan

Shocked: Prof Sabina Brennan

A leading expert on dementia has condemned a study on 'empty nesters' as ageist and demanded a 'Minister for Older People'.

Senate candidate Professor Sabina Brennan said we need to recognise older people as valuable members of society.

Her comments came as controversy rages over calls by economists at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) that older people could be incentivised to sell their homes to help ease the housing crisis.

The ESRI insists it is only a suggestion, and there is no compulsory element to the idea.

The think-tank also stresses that the plan is fraught with difficulty and would yield only 26,000 houses, at most.

But there has been a furious reaction from groups representing older people at the suggestion that those living in larger houses should move to smaller accommodation now their children have left home.

Professor of psychology and director of a dementia research programme at Trinity College Dublin, Prof Brennan said the ESRI study was ageist.

"I was shocked to see that the ESRI failed to see the ageism in a scheme that would incentivise older people to downsize as a means to solving the current housing crisis."

She said she was angry that this approach shows older adults as a burden on society.

And she questioned the description of their homes as "housing stock".

"All of us, irrespective of our age, should be allowed to live with dignity in our communities and in our own homes for as long as possible," Prof Brennan said.

She said the ESRI study highlights the urgent need to appoint a senior minister for older persons to protect the rights of older people and to implement the strategy which has been gathering dust since its publication in 2013.

The controversial ESRI study, entitled 'Housing and Ireland's Older Population', was sponsored by the banks and State bad bank Nama.

Age Action said the ESRI report ignores the lack of housing options available for many older people.

And it pointed out that if older people were to downsize they would be in competition with first-time buyers seeking starter homes.

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