Stenden, de Hanzehogeschool, NHL en Van Hall Larenstein werken sinds 2010 samen in het Sectorplan Noord. Naast ondernemerschap, energie, watertechnologie, onderwijs en toerisme is Healthy Ageing een van de speerpunten van die samenwerking. De onderzoekers van de verschillende hogescholen hebben hun onderzoek nu gebundeld en presenteren op 8 november in Groningen hun resultaten.
“Healthy Ageing is one of the most pressing challenges in of the European Union. Questions relevant to meeting these challenges are, one, how can citizens remain healthy for a longer period and two, how can arrangements be made that ensure that all members of society receive the care they need?” In een land waar meer mensen zorg nodig hebben en minder mensen beschikbaar zijn om deze te bieden, is dat een zeer nijpende kwestie.
Anne-Sophie Parent, de secretaris-generaal van het AGE Platform Europe, stipt in de inleiding van de bundel ‘Healthy Ageing: practice and innovation at the four universities of applied research in the northern Netherlands’ aan voor welke zorgvragen Europa en Nederland zich de komende jaren gesteld zien. Er is meer dan de inkomenspolitieke kant en perikelen rond het systeem, zo blijkt uit de kernvragen die praktijkonderzoek moet helpen oplossen en scherp stellen.
Hoe biedt je goede zorg in een sterk vergrijzende samenleving? Kan de samenleving zo aangepast worden dat een gezonde leefstijl wordt bevorderd en we tot op hoge leeftijd beweging blijven stimuleren? Hoe kunnen obesitas en slechte eetgewoonten succesvol worden bestreden en hoe kunnen zelfstandig leven en welzijn op betaalbare wijze worden bewerkstelligd?
Parent benadrukt dat deze vragen het zorgdebat in heel Europa domineren. De bundel van de vier Noord-Nederlandse hogescholen is dan ook een zeer welkome bijdrage aan het debat, zoals dat nu gevoerd wordt door de partijenuit de wetenschap en de praktijk van de zorg, die betrokken zijn bij het European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing van de Europese Commissie.
De bundel ‘Healthy Ageing’ is hier te bestellen.
U leest hieronder het betoog van Anne-Sophie Parent
For decades researchers across Europe have been analyzing and proposing solutions to the challenges posed by Europe’s demographic ageing. Today’s context of recession and severe sovereign debt adds a sense of urgency to this debate, even in countries which seem to resist better to the current economic crisis.
New approaches must be found and implemented rapidly to keep older people at work for a bit longer, to empower them to age in better physical and mental health and to enable them to live autonomous lives for as long as possible, in order to reduce the pressure on social protection systems and on future generations.
New questions are raised for which policy makers need evidence based research to inform their decisions because it can no longer be business as usual. We need to find more cost efficient ways to prevent, care, cure or at least delay the onset of age related illnesses and impairments. How can we continue to offer quality care to all in a context of rapid demographic ageing?
Can we adapt our environment to foster healthier lifestyles and encourage physical activity at all ages? How can we become more successful in reducing obesity and malnutrition and convince larger numbers of people to adopt healthy diets so that they can enjoy a good quality of life for longer? What can be done to support independent living and wellbeing of very old people in ways that are affordable and accessible to all? What benefits can new technologies bring to improve healthcare delivery and patient empowerment?
What can be done to overcome the barriers older people face in their daily activities, to tackle isolation and support their full participation in the community? Can social innovation help us find the right solutions that will ensure a sustainable future for all generations? How can entrepreneurship be promoted in the field of silver economy? How can we improve quality of care through the provision of lifelong learning opportunities to care professionals in order to improve their working conditions and performance?
All these questions are discussed across the European Union and everyone is eager to learn from the experience of others. This book, which presents various approaches that support active and Healthy Ageing, is therefore a welcome and timely initiative. It will certainly contribute to the debates going on at European level in the framework of the European Year 2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.
These new ideas will also be useful for those involved in the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing launched a year ago by the European Commission with the aim to improve by two the average lifespan one can expect to enjoy in good health.
To support the objective of the European Innovation Partnership, AGE Platform Europe is running a campaign to promote age-friendly environments across Europe. Many solutions supporting active and Healthy Ageing have been developed as pilots across the European Union, but they often remain isolated and do not get scaled up, not even in their own country.
This means that their impact is limited. Except in a very few countries that have nationnal programmes on age-friendly communities, the various governance levels that need to work together to support age-friendly environments do not coordinate their action.
Today there is no European network to enable all stakeholders interested in promoting age-friendly environments to link up, benefit from each other’s experience and work together on shaping the EU agenda on active and Healthy Ageing. For this reason AGE Platform Europe has proposed to set up a European Covenant on demographic change, to create a unique structure that will help mobilise a wide range of local and regional authorities, researchers and relevant stakeholders across the EU.
The proposed Covenant will facilitate the creation of a large scale movement to adapt our environments and communities to the need of our ageing population. The proposed Covenant will support longer healthy life years by pooling and sharing the knowledge and expertise of the World Health Organization on Healthy Ageing and age-friendly environments.
It will seek to facilitate access of local and regional actors to the outcomes of the European Innovation Partnership, the EU work on the concept of Design-for-All and interoperability standards, and the upcoming Knowledge for Innovation Community for healthy living and active ageing that will be launched in 2014 by the European Institute of Technology.
This Knowledge for Innovation Community will offer new opportunities to scientists from across Europe to work together on all the fields of healthy living and active ageing. In 2014, provided the European leaders find an agreement on the future EU budget, new research programmes will be launched by the EU and funded for a new period of 7 years.
The objective of active and Healthy Ageing should remain high on the agenda and researchers will have plenty of opportunities to link up with fellow researchers in other parts of Europe to submit joint research projects. Universities have a key role to play to help design, monitor and assess new solutions that will keep up-to-date with the evolving needs of our ageing population and help us ensure a bright future for all generations despite today’s difficult economic context.