Ireland to stay in the comfort of their

Ireland has one of the youngest populations in Europe.
However, since the 1980s, there has been evidence to suggest an ageing
population and this is set to continue with the baby boomer generation moving
into their retirement years. According to CSO 2016, the number of people aged
in the over 65 years cohort is up 19.1% since the last census, in comparison to
a decrease of 6.5% in the 19-24 years age group. Globally, it is estimated that
between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the population aged over 60 years will
double from about 11% to 22%, to about 2 billion people in total, of which, 395
million will be over the age of 80. By 2050, older adults will have outnumbered
all children under the age of 14. Most of this ageing will take place in urban
areas. (World Health Organisation, 2017) Population ageing is considered a
great triumph for society as it is a testament to drivers such as better-quality
housing and living conditions, improved public health and, medical and
scientific advances. However, there is little doubt that this unprecedented demographic
transition may have profound implications economically, socially and
politically. Therefore, it is imperative that planners start implementing
strategies and providing services and infrastructure now to meet the challenges
that this transition will pose. “The increasing relevance of the ageing
population structure to the policy agenda cannot be disputed.” (Hockey,
Phillips and Walford, 2013) This essay will discuss the planning challenges
posed by an ageing population; creating policy, providing infrastructure and,
ensuring a diverse social housing stock.

‘Ageing-in-place’ has been defined as “remaining living in
the community, with some level of independence, rather than in residential care”
(Davey, de Joux, Nana, & Arcus, 2004, pp. 133). Aside from the broad
agreement that people remaining in their own homes is desirable on economic
grounds in comparison to residential care, studies show that people prefer to
stay in the comfort of their own home and familiar community setting.

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“An initial problem for planners in developing their
understanding of the spatial experience of older people stems from the breadth
of the concept, requiring the assimilation and translation of knowledges from a
wide range of disciplines, including gerontology, geography, town planning and
psychology.” (Hockey, Phillips and Walford, 2013) One way of overcoming this
fundamental challenge is developing a multi-disciplinary approach to creating
policy by analysing data such as demographics, employment statistics and school
enrolment figures in order to forecast what the demand will be. The Royal Town
Planning Institute, representing the planning profession, has itself sought to
address this gap in knowledge by publishing guides such as ‘Planning for an Ageing Population’, ‘Planning for an Ageing Society’ and ‘Housing for an Ageing Population’.  The World Health Organisation’s Global Network
for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities consists of more than 500 cities and
communities in 37 countries, all working with a similar aim in mind; to improve
their physical and social environments to allow healthy ageing in place under
eight themes – the built environment, social
participation, housing, respect and social inclusion, transport, civic
participation and employment, communication and information, and community
support and health services. This network led to Ireland adopting its own
National Positive Ageing Strategy, a high level document published in 2013,
whose vision statement is for “Ireland to be a society for all ages that
celebrates and prepares properly for individual and population ageing”.
Planners must engage with strategies such as these and implement goals and
objectives into national and local policy for housing, services and
infrastructure. For example, National Goal 3 of this strategy is to “enable
people to age with confidence, security and dignity in their own homes and
communities for as long as possible”. Objective 3.3 intends to “support the
design and development of age-friendly public spaces, transport and buildings”
so that they are lifelong and adaptable.