Commissioner hears Fermanagh elderly’s concerns

The Commissioner for Older People, Eddie Lynch addressing attendees at the Killyhevlin Hotel

The Commissioner for Older People, Eddie Lynch addressing attendees at the Killyhevlin Hotel

The Older People’s Commissioner has been grilled on healthcare, pension rights and the increasing problem of rural isolation amongst the elderly in Fermanagh.
Eddie Lynch met with up to 100 members the county’s older people at an engagement event in Enniskillen to hear their views on his proposed priorities for his term of office.
The 39-year-old Armagh man was appointed to the post of Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland in June, having previously worked at the Consumer Council and as Chief Executive of Age Sector Platform, overseeing the Pensioners Parliament. The event at the Killyhevlin Hotel was one of six public consultations being held throughout the North.
With Fermanagh facing an old age timebomb as home to more pensioners than any other part of the North, fears have been expressed over how the county’s elderly population will be properly cared for in the future.
Recent figures from the NI Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) show that Fermanagh will see the single biggest percentage increase in over-65s within the next decade. Between 2014 and 2024 the population aged 65 and over is expected to rise in all council areas by almost 26% with the biggest increase predicted in Fermanagh and Omagh (33.2%).
Speaking to the Herald on his visit to Enniskillen, Mr Lynch said the voices of older people are central to his work. Over the next four years, he has identified a number of priorities, namely working towards a society which respects, value and protects the older people in the community.
“These cover a lot of the issues that older people have brought to our attention in recent years. All they want is a decent standard of life, respect in the later years, to feel valued as they contribute a lot to society and protection when they become vulnerable through illness or increasing financial abuse,” he said.
With the older generation, comes the prospect of care and increasing health bills for the older generations. Mr Lynch has also identified healthcare for older people as a priority particularly services and support for Dementia sufferers.
He also wants to see an end to age discrimination and support for the Active Ageing Strategy. In areas like Fermanagh, Mr Lynch acknowledged that concerns around rural isolation also need to be addressed.
“This has a big impact on mental health, transport and quality of life. Elderly people tell me all the time how much they value their bus pass as a way of encouraging them to get out and about. Of course, you need to have a bus in the first place which is a problem in areas like Fermanagh.”

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