What is Active Ageing?
Active ageing refers to the situation where people continue to participate in the formal labour market, as well as engage in other unpaid productive activities (such as care provision to family members and volunteering), and live healthy, independent and secure lives as they age
The National Strategic Policy for Active Ageing: Malta 2014-2020 is premised upon three major themes: active participation in the labour market, participation in society and independent living. Active ageing refers to the situation where older and ageing persons continue to have an opportunity in participating in the formal labour market, as well as engaging in other unpaid productive activities, that may range from care provision for family members to volunteering, whilst living healthy, independent and secure lives as they age.
Active ageing policies seek to increase the number of older workers in the labour market, whilst enabling persons above statutory retirement age to remain in or re-enter employment. These objectives are necessary so that contemporary and future societies mitigate falling levels of working age populations and the impact this has on dependency ratios and skill shortage. This therefore facilitates the reduction of potential future poverty amongst older persons and supports the potential of ageing workers in playing an important part in the delivery of future economic growth. The National Strategic Policy for Active Ageing offers the following policy recommendations to strengthen the levels of older and ageing workers: continuous vocational training for older adults; improving healthy working conditions, age management techniques and employment services; taking a constructive stand against ageism and age discrimination; implementing a tax/benefits system; encouraging mentoring schemes in occupational organisations; and strengthening the available measures reconciling work and informal care.
The notion of social participation is a recurring motif in policy statements advocating active ageing. The concept of active ageing aspires to a continuous and active participation of older persons in social, economic, cultural and civic affairs. Yet, individual aspirations alone are not enough in sustaining participative lifestyles. The determination of older adults for optimal levels of social engagement will always encounter a range of structural barriers, difficulties that may result in unwelcome experiences of material and social exclusion. The National Strategic Policy for Active Ageing offers the following policy recommendations to improve social inclusion in later life: ensuring a safe, adequate and sustainable income for all older persons; providing financial and social resources for vulnerable older persons; recognising the social benefits arising from older volunteering and grandparenthood; strengthening opportunities for learning, digital literacy, active citizenship and intergenerational solidarity in later life; and providing further support to informal carers of older persons.
Transforming society’s perception of ageing from one of dependency to active ageing requires a paradigm shift that enables independence and dignity with advancing age. Society must not be content solely with a remarkably increased life expectancy, but it must also strive to extend healthy life years and then provide opportunities for physical and mental activities adapted to the capacities of older individuals. Strengthening measures of health promotion, care and protection aids older persons in ensuring high physical and mental functioning that fosters independent living. The National Strategic Policy for Active Ageing offers the following policy recommendations to improve independent living in later life: improving services in health prevention and promotion; acute and geriatric rehabilitation; mental health and wellbeing and community care services targeting older and ageing adults; supporting initiatives that facilitate the creation of age-friendly and dementia-friendly communities and services; maximising autonomy in long-term care; raising awareness of elderly abuse and neglect; and investing further in end-of-life care.