Today I was the keynote speaker at the Active Retirement Ireland Regional AGM for the North East.
The AGM, which also featured an Activity Day and Information Stands was sponsored by homecare for older people providers Home Instead. Former RTE Newsreader Anne Doyle officially opened the event.
It was an honour to address the Regional ARI AGM in the Ardboyne Hotel: As a Meath man, I am particularly pleased at the fact that Meath alone houses 30 of the 50 local branches in the region. An active healthy retirement is something which all of us hope and pray for. Retirement is a time in life to do the things that might not have been possible in the decades of balancing work and family. Keeping active – both in body and mind – not just means that you can fully participate in your community, but it also provides potential for huge social benefit.
My address touched on a number of issues
Gender and Mental Health
It’s notable that more women than men seem to engage with Active Retirement, and this represents a challenge for all of us: rural isolation and less social contact can contribute to poor mental health. Getting out and about and socialising can play a significant role in improving our well-being
Life long learning and mentoring
In my role as Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, I am acutely aware of the role which learning and education play in everyone’s life. Life-long learning is something which everyone can benefit from, especially during retirement.
It is a way of defining any learning that we engage in from cradle to grave.
As Minister with responsibility for Lifelong Learning, I know that there is growing awareness that education is a lifelong process and that learning should occur at all stages of life, in line with the concept of lifelong learning.
Nowadays, all of us have to continually develop our skills and further our knowledge to keep pace with a fast-changing world. But we also have a duty to share our skills and our experiences formally and informally with the younger generation, and to act as guides and mentors.
This is an opportunity for older people and for Active Retirement Ireland that I asked them to think about and act on.
Social Inclusion Monitor
I am very aware of the negative impact which our severe economic recession has had on many communities, and indeed on many personal incomes. However, it is worth noting that the State’s latest Social Inclusion Monitor, which reports on progress towards the national social target for poverty reduction, shows the at-risk-of-poverty rate at its lowest level since 2010. Ireland continues to have one of the best-performing social protection systems in the EU in terms of reducing poverty through social transfers.
In the most recent Budget 2015 the Living Alone Allowance was increased from €7.70 to €9.00 per week at a cost of €12 million a year – 177,500 pensioners and people with disabilities benefited from this.
Role of Grandparents in Childcare
I know as the father of 4 children under 5 that Grandparents are playing a greater role than ever before as childminders, and in some cases raring a 2nd family all over again. This can be a really special and joyous experience, but I know too that the novelty can wear off. Some grandparents are older than others and not in great health. The views of Active Retirement volunteers regarding our childcare system and ways to reform and expand it are something I would also like to hear about so I can take them on board and pass them on to colleagues in Government.