Today marks the 30th anniversary of the UN International Day of Older Persons.  This year’s focus is on “Pandemics: Do they change how we address age and ageing?” 

The Department for Communities has worked closely and continues to engage with a range of partners to ensure services are delivered and support provided to older people within the community.

Speaking on the 30th anniversary, Minister Ní Carál Chuilín said: 

“Older people in our community have shown great resilience and determination in overcoming the challenges presented by Covid-19.  They have been particularly affected by the pandemic, with all but 26 of the 579 deaths here occurring in the over 60s. 

“Since the onset of the pandemic, my Department has worked to ensure that support is available to those who need it.  Our partnerships with district councils and voluntary and community organisations, including Age NI and age sector networks, have been integral to the success of these initiatives. 

“Together, we have distributed over 204,000 food parcels to those who are shielded or vulnerable, and answered more than 23,000 calls to the Covid-19 helpline.  Many of our older citizens have benefited from this support.”

Concluding, the Minister said: “I look forward to continuing to work alongside Age NI and other partners to ensure that the wellbeing of our older citizens is promoted as we address the ongoing impact of the pandemic.”

Linda Robinson, Age NI Chief Executive, said:

“Older people around the world bear the brunt of the impact of Covid-19. Here in Northern Ireland, the pandemic brought dramatic changes to the everyday lives of older people, their sense of purpose and independence.  Many older people continue to endure loneliness, fear and anxiety at this time. 

"During a pandemic it is even more important that older people have their rights respected, their voices heard and the contribution they make to society recognised and valued.  It is only by working together that we will be able to create a better future for us all and respond effectively and compassionately to the impact of this virus on us as individuals, our families and our communities."

The current Active Ageing Strategy 2016-2021 is due to conclude in January 2021. The Minister will shortly be engaging with Executive colleagues in relation to the options for the outcomes of this strategy post 2021.