Thursday, February 25, 2016

Age Friendly Strategy bounces along

The just launched Kildare Age Friendly County Strategy 2016-2018 is a little long on policy jargon and short on specifics, writes Brian Byrne.

In several introductory pieces there are phrases similar to 'the voice of the older person is at the heart of the Programme', but really what we have are rather stilted tones of state and local authority organisations, along with officialised statements from various non-statutory groups and councils.

For instance, I don't know of many older people who would say something like 'a metaplan technique session was organised'. I'll always remember the saying of a former boss of mine, Fr Colm Kilcoyne, that an unclear written or spoken phrase 'bounced off my forehead'. This document will have bounced phrases piling knee-deep on the floor.

I suppose that with the 25-strong membership of the Kildare Age Friendly Alliance including nine staff members of Kildare County Council, three members of the HSE, and representatives of four local authority related organisations, that's not a surprise.

But it seems very odd that there's just one seat at that table for the Kildare Older Persons Council set up last May, when that Council is described as the 'key group' of the Kildare Age Friendly County Programme.

Does it read that there are a lot of forums here? Yep. I'm absolutely certain that everybody involved is sincere in their wish to make things more Age Friendly, but there's going to be an awful lot of talking done in the process of this Strategy.

Don't get me wrong. There's good stuff in the 64-page booklet. You have to get about halfway through, though, before you find it. And then sit down and sift it out like nuggets from gritty water in a mountain stream.

For instance, the average life expectancy has increased by four years since 2000. That's a whopping big jump.

Only 5 percent of people over the age of 65 are 'frail'. That's a ton less than most of us would have thought.

While Kildare has the second youngest population in the country, more than 28 percent under 18, it also has the second highest growth rate of people over 65.

From page 27 on we have the aims and objectives for being Age Friendly from the HSE, the Garda Siochana (well and simply put), the Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board, the Kildare Sports Partnership, the KCC Library & Arts Services (nice clear one here too), the Kildare Local Enterprise Office, and a whole bunch of different departments in Kildare County Council itself.

All of these will be responsible for implementing their own elements of the Strategy, under the umbrella of the Kildare Age Friendly County Alliance.

There's a website — — and you can download the whole document from here.

If you have an interest in the Age Friendly thing — and we all should have, because we or family members are always heading towards or are already in that space — it's worth a read. Just leave room for the bouncing phrases …