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  • Author or Editor: Kieran Walsh x
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As a means of strengthening older people’s environmental relationships the age-friendly concept has been applied to communities, cities and larger regions. In the current economic climate, however, enhancing the ageing in place experience is a substantial challenge. The impact of austerity on such experiences has not been considered. There are also questions on how the diversity of people and place and community change intersect to alter the meaning of ageing in place, and how social policy can support such complex interconnections between individuals and place. This chapter explores older people’s relationship with place in the context of policy driven austerity, the economic recession, and the pursuit of age-friendly communities. The chapter demonstrates the worth of exploring how cultural contexts can shape the relationship of such factors. As one of the principle sites of the age-friendly movement, and as a well-documented location of economic recession and austerity, Ireland holds particular relevance to international jurisdictions.

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Chapter 8 examines the dynamics of the implementation process of an age-friendly county programme in one of the participating counties in Ireland, County Fingal. The chapter integrates the views of local, national and international stakeholders to explore the complex interplay of forces at these various levels that have influenced the development and impact of Fingal’s local programme. Findings from empirical research are used to explore the key stakeholders’ motivations and actions that were influential in developing and implementing the programme, and the attitudes, understandings and actions of these same stakeholders that underpin, and are reflected in, the processes established to involve older people in the programme. The chapter concludes by highlighting key issues that need to be addressed to enhance the potential impact of age-friendly community programmes on older adults’ lives.

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The way we think about older people’s lives at the intersection of dementia and rurality, and our recognition of the importance of their world, is crucial to ensuring the delivery of more effective public supports that can enable them to realise full personhood and citizenship, connected to the people that they love and the places where they live. This chapter uses a social exclusion conceptual framework to unpack complex and multiple challenges facing rural older people with dementia and highlights the importance of adopting a multifaceted holistic approach to support full societal participation. The analysis provides an argument for the recalibration of current dementia policy towards a genuine social production model for rural dwelling people with dementia; one that focuses on supporting them to continue to enjoy active and connected lives in rural communities through practical social policies, such as additional home supports, innovative psychosocial provision and integrated transport arrangements.

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Critical Perspectives from Ireland

Demographic ageing is identified as a global challenge with significant social policy implications. This book explores these implications, with a particular focus on the pressures and prospects for ageing societies in the context of austerity.

The book presents a carefully crafted study of ageing in Ireland, one of the countries hardest hit by the Eurozone financial crisis. Providing a close, critical analysis of ageing and social policy that draws directly on the perspectives of older people, the text makes significant advances in framing alternatives to austerity-driven government policy and neoliberalism, giving a refreshing interdisciplinary account of contemporary ageing.

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This chapter establishes the key arguments for this book, locating the text amidst significant knowledge gaps concerning the intersection of ageing, social policy and austerity. The chapter proposes Ireland as a unique and valuable case-study for the analysis, presenting in brief some of the conflicting and contrasting patterns arising from growing older during a time of economic recession and austerity driven social policy. The chapter presents the book’s critical gerontology approach. It describes the context of austerity in Ireland, charting the nation’s transition from unprecedented economic growth, to severe economic recession to, perhaps again, economic recovery. The chapter positions Ireland, and its economic crisis, in the global political economy and provides a critical overview of the historical evolution of ageing-related social policy in Ireland. The chapter ends by outlining the structure of the book and the contributions from each of the authors.

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The final chapter highlights the main purpose of the book: to question how ageing affects work and retirement, citizenship, health, place, disadvantage and exclusion in one county context, during a period of economic hardship. Each chapter provided a systematic assessment of the most up to date literature on the relevant policy area. New insights on the issue were followed by an applied analysis of the Irish case. Finally, by drawing out the implications of the Irish case for other national contexts’ experience of austerity, each chapter provides insights for an internationally shared understanding of global population ageing. Using the single country lens, at a challenging time in Irish history, has allowed this book to raise new questions for future policy planning in ageing societies. By taking this in-depth approach, the extent of the challenge presented by demographic change in economic recession and economic retrenchment can be identified, and future policy approaches imagined and, ultimately, designed.

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