There will be nearly 1 million people aged 65 and over by 2031 – an increase of 86.4 per cent. Of these 136,000 will be aged 85 or over by 2031, an increase of 132.8 per cent. Now is the time to plan Ireland’s investment in services and infrastructure. This is one of the key issues highlighted in the National Social Monitor 2016.
There will be one million over-65’s in Ireland by 2031 and now is the time to plan for this demographic change. This level of population ageing will be associated with higher levels of disability and long-term ill-health and now is the time for planning and investment. Social Justice Ireland is seriously concerned that adequate funding is not being provided to address the ageing of the population that will result in a steady increase in older people and people with disabilities accessing services.
- With an ageing population, the acute hospital system will be unable to operate effectively unless there is a greater shift towards primary and community services as a principal means of meeting patient needs.
- There has been a 17 per cent reduction in the number of home help hours delivered since 2008. This has left families struggling to cover the gaps in care for their elderly relatives.
- A commitment to supporting people at home is only aspirational if funding is not provided for home help services, day care centres and home care packages. These are the very areas which must be the subject of investment to address population ageing.
The demographic changes highlighted also have major implications for lifelong learning and employment – other areas which are addressed in the monitor.
A further issue covered in the monitor is environment and sustainability. This is another area where Ireland faces challenges.
- The immediate challenge for Irish climate policy is to meet the EU 2020 targets for the domestic sector. This will require major changes by Government if these targets are to be met.
- Climate policy must be integrated into transport policy and agriculture policy. Ireland needs to develop and promote sustainable transport and agriculture practices to reduce Ireland’s emissions.
Other issues highlighted in the monitor include the need to fully resource the National Skills Strategy, to resource the up-skilling of those who are unemployed, in particular the long-term unemployed and the need to frontload investment in rural broadband.