CORK County Council has been urged to carry out an assessment of sheltered housing for the elderly in every county town in order to cater for our ageing population.
Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton raised the issue at County Hall today, highlighting the increasing age profile of the population.
Ms D’Alton said: “The age profile of the Irish population is increasing. The last Census (2016) saw an increase of more than 19% in people aged over 65.
“There was also a 15.6% increase in the number of people aged over 85. This is a huge success story in terms of lifestyle and health but our national and local policies must recognise the implications of this demographic shift and start planning for it now so that we can as a nation embrace rather than fear growing older.”
West Cork councillor Mary Hegarty said that the elderly have a lot of energy and want to be living in a vibrant community, which should be accommodated.
Independent Blarney councillor Kevin Conway said he thought Ireland was 10 years behind the UK in terms of planning for the ageing population.
“This is probably the most important proposal we have seen in the last five years and we need to start thinking about it now,” he said.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Mary Rose Desmond said Ireland was very slow as a nation to ensure that the proper provisions were in place for the elderly and also said increasing sheltered housing would help to free up housing stock for others.
“There are elderly people who are looking to downsize so we need to push on the infrastructures required to facilitate that while allowing the ageing population to maintain their own living space and independence.”
Fine Gael Councillor Anthony Barry said it was a very important issue.
“Every single community has this concern about people who want to live in sheltered accommodation.
“There is a huge demand in every single village and town. We have a huge responsibility to look after the elderly and our efforts need to be ramped up.”
Ms D’Alton said: “What I am urgently seeking support for through this motion is for us as a local authority to ensure that each town has ample provision of a range of houses appropriate for ageing.
“To actively identify in our Local Area Plans town centre or close to town centre sites that are best placed to develop sheltered housing for the elderly.”
The issue is due to be further discussed at the council’s Strategic Policy Committee.