In a keynote address at the 2018 Selwyn Centres Annual Conference, Director of the Office for Seniors, Diane Turner, told delegates that dramatic demographic changes in the senior community required the country to take a fresh look at the issues, and questions, that matter for older people.
The Office is therefore in the midst of a nationwide consultation process – which runs until 24 August 2018 – in preparation for developing a new strategy for the ageing population and action plan, so New Zealand can respond effectively to these demographic changes.
The ‘Community Connections’-themed conference at Auckland’s Selwyn Village on 25 July brought together coordinators, volunteers and parish committee members of The Selwyn Foundation’s network of 40 community drop-in centres for older people (‘Selwyn Centres’) which are located across Greater Auckland, Northland, the Waikato and in Christchurch.
At the event, Ms Turner said: “The need for a new ageing strategy stems largely from significant population trends as well as changes in attitude about growing older. Currently, there are 723,000 people aged 65 and over – that represents 15% of New Zealanders. Estimates are that, by 2038, 1.3 million people will be over 65 – almost a quarter of the population.
“This future cohort will generally be healthier than their 2018 counterparts. They’ll live longer and will have quite different expectations, and perspectives, on the ageing process. Many will be working past the ‘traditional’ retirement age and will want to play a more active role in planning for their future.
“At the same time, we are promoting the creation of ‘Age-friendly communities’,” said Ms Turner. “This is based on a World Health Organisation concept founded on a number of principles that cover: people’s respect for themselves and their community; access to appropriate resources including technology; more of a multi-generational community make-up; and opportunities for participation and engagement in all aspects of life.
“Regardless of age, people want to be safe and to feel supported. They want a place to call home and have the ways and means to be able to connect with their communities of choice,” she said.