Changing Needs Of Older People
Stephanie Clennell, Open University Older Students Research Group, Oxford, Great Britain Views of activities and needs of older students in four countries - Belgium, France, Germany and the United Kingdom - based on studies made by the European Older Students Research Group The European Commission has defined the third age as beginning at the age of 50. Ageing is an individual matter. Chronological age is a poor indication of physical and mental age. Older is currently defined mainly in the social and economic terms of retirement age and pensions. Yet the overall situation in the populations of Western Europe is a new one for societies: people now live longer, and are healthy and active longer than in any previous age. The 60-90 age groups already make up over 20% of the population. The first need is the adjustment to this change in population structure and characteristics and capacities of people over 50. There is a time-lag between the demographic facts and the attitudes, stereotypes and social and economic practices of Western European societies (and elsewhere). There is a need to change both attitudes and practice. A second need is, obviously, caring for people in the fourth age of dependence, who are becoming more numerous and making more demands on welfare services. The third need in present circumstances is the adjustment of older people to the concept and practice of retirement, either from paid work or major family responsibilities. Retirement can mean an abrupt change in life style which brings changing needs: economic - some are well off, but many are poor, especially women social - loss of contacts at work, but a need to be active in society personal - self-esteem, satisfying activities and interest, review of attitude to life This applies also to the unemployed or redundant at 50+. What do we know about people who have "retired successfully"? Older students mostly come into this...
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