During the 136th plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), SILVER SMEs met with Birgitta Sacrédeus, member of Dalarna County Council in Sweden, member of the CoR and rapporteur for the recently adopted opinion on Active and Healthy Ageing.
Why an opinion on Active and Healthy Ageing?
Although initiatives linked to the European ageing population already exist at European level, such as the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, Ms Sacrédeus felt the need for more work and incentives on the topic. “Older adults should not be a burden for families, I deeply respect families welcoming their elders, but we also need to consider those who cannot and develop alternatives” she told us. “Hospitals are not always the best solution either and we must develop homecare, technology can help us to do so” she added, before explaining “assisted living has a strong potential to help older adults stay active and healthy; in my region in Sweden, Dalarna region, we for instance have a show flat where entrepreneurs can showcase their innovative products, developed to support older adults in their daily life at home”.
What is to be developed beyond technology?
The opinion is focused on technological innovations, but connectivity in rural and mountainous regions is not always of good quality, especially in remote areas. Moreover, some goods and services of the Silver Economy sector are more social rather than technological innovations. “The social aspect of care of course must not be forgotten” ensure the rapporteur, “loneliness is a factor of illness and we must make sure that older adults are well integrated in local communities, especially in small villages”.
Who does the jobs?
“Regions have a critical role in keeping older adults active and healthy” stressed Mrs Sacrédeus, “in 20 out of 28 EU Member States, regions are the competent authority on the health policy and can thus make sure the ageing issue is addressed”.
The European level however remains an important lever to answer the needs of elderly people, especially when considering that Member States are facing the ageing issue at different levels. On this, the rapporteur expressed her hopes regarding the future work of Stella Kyriakides, the foreseen Commissioner for Health. “She is a doctor herself and has experience in social affairs and healthcare” she explained, before adding “in her audition at the European Parliament, she mentioned the crucial role of regional and local levels, this is a first step for the recognition of regions in the well-being of populations”.
For more information on the CoR opinion on Active and Healthy Ageing, please see our press release. More information on the above mentioned show flat can also be found in our good practices database and in our video.