Ireland is 17th best country for older people
IRELAND has been ranked the 17th best country in which to grow old - although there is concern the elderly are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.
The Global AgeWatch Index 2014, published today, which measures well-being for older people in 96 countries, said while Ireland ranks high overall it drops to 34th place for offering employment opportunities.
"The percentage of people aged 60-64 who are unemployed has remained steady at around 10pc in the last year. Between 2007 and 2011 the unemployment rate among 55 to 64-year-olds rose by 7pc and much of the Government focus "is on younger workers."
It also falls to 20th place when it comes to "income security" with an old-age-poverty rate of 7.6pc, the report on the index findings revealed.
It said that while people are entitled to a State pension, access to occupational and personal pensions is uneven, mostly due to the fact that they are not mandatory.
"The incidence of poverty among older people in Ireland is not as pronounced as for other groups. However, an EU survey found that the at risk poverty rate for those aged 65 and over was 12.1pc, an increase on previous years."
It pointed out that while the Government has protected the rate of the State pension, the introduction of the property tax and upcoming water charges, along with cuts in supports such as the household benefit packages, have meant that older people find it "increasingly difficult to make ends meet."
Ireland is back in 17th place when it comes to health status although long term health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and joint join pain are on the rise as the population ages.
It also noted that "in the past number of years there have been significant cuts to health services and budgets. In particular, primary care services are being reduced by €102m in 2014."
However, the ranking is helped by Irish people's improving life expectancy at 60 and psychological well-being.
Ireland gets its highest ranking at 16th place for its "enabling environment". The report points to the Free Travel Pass which allows them to travel for free on all public transport services and with some private operators after the age of 66. The report referenced an Age Action survey that older people see this as a vital support in enabling them to participate in community activities, visit family and friends and engage in economic activities.
"However, for those in rural areas services are often patchy and disjointed. Security and safety is an important issue for older people in Ireland. Many people have pendant alarms which are run through a connection to their landline. However, in last year's Budget the telephone allowance was abolished and many older people cancelled their landlines meaning that they can no longer use their panics alarms," the report added.
The league table puts Norway at the top followed by Sweden. Apart from Japan all the top ten countries are in western Europe, North Amercia and Australasia.