Wellbeing is a positive physical, social and mental state. It requires that basic needs are met, that individuals have a sense of purpose and feel able to achieve goals that are important to them and that they can participate in society and live lives that they value.
While there is no agreed definition of older people’s wellbeing, current thinking associates it with the affirmative concepts of ageing that have been developed internationally i.e. healthy, active, positive, productive and successful ageing. A range of factors impacts on health and wellbeing as people age. In the past, policy relating to older people tended to deal almost exclusively with health and social care issues. However, it is clear that the implications of a society in which the average citizen will live longer, the average age of the population will rise, and the average number of years spent in retirement will increase must be considered in the context of all key policy spheres.
The National Positive Ageing Strategy (NPAS) was published in 2013 by the Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, Kathleen Lynch following a comprehensive and wide-ranging consultation process between Government and older people in Ireland. The Strategy sets out a vision for an Ireland that will be a society for all ages, that celebrates and prepares properly for individual and population ageing. It seeks to enable and support people of all ages and older people to enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential.
The NPAS identifies four national goals;
- Remove barriers to participation and provide more opportunities for the continued involvement of people as they age in all aspects of cultural, economic and social life in their communities according to their needs, preferences and capacities.
- Support people as they age to maintain, improve or manage their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
- Enable people to age with confidence, security and dignity in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.
- Support and use research about people as they age to better inform policy responses to population ageing in Ireland.
The Department of Health will lead the Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative in order to fulfil the objectives of Goal 4 through its various activities.