Better Later Life launched

The Government’s plan to help older New Zealanders live well, Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 2034, was launched by Seniors Minister Tracey Martin today.

“Better Later Life takes a fresh look at what is required to ensure everyone gets the chance to live well as they get older and help ensure we create opportunities for everyone to participate, contribute and be valued as they age,” Minister Martin says.

“It has also been designed to ensure New Zealand is prepared for and makes the most of our ageing population.

“Like the rest of the developed world, New Zealand has an ageing population,” says Minister Martin. “That’s great news in that more of us are living longer, healthier lives than ever before. But it also means there are some things we have to consider and prepare for as a country.”

The demographic shifts occuring have implications for the economy, for employment and housing, health and aged care, and social services. “For example, two key areas of the strategy are supporting seniors in the workforce and how businesses can better recruit and retain older people; and promoting housing options appropriate for older people.

“It is also important as a country that we have policies and initiatives that help people to keep connections throughout their lives and stop them being isolated or lonely.”

Better Later Life includes five key areas for action, based on feedback from nationwide consultation:

  • achieving financial security and economic participation
  • promoting healthy ageing and improving access to services
  • creating diverse housing choices and options
  • enhancing opportunities for participation and social connection, and
  • making environments accessible.

An action plan will be developed based on the strategy’s key areas and progress will be tracked by two-yearly reporting on what has been done.

“We’re not waiting to start this work, though,” Mrs Martin says. “We’ve already introduced changes to the SuperGold Card to stretch peoples’ income, and the Age-Friendly community programme is underway as is reform of the Residential Tenancy Act.

“We’re also actively looking at what it takes to allow older people to remain in paid work.”

The strategy was launched at the Better Later Working Lives Forum, hosted by the Minister at Parliament.

“The forum is a great opportunity to talk about the ageing workforce and to address the challenges that people over 50 often face in participating in the workforce,” says Minister Martin.

“We want to make sure that older people can work, if they wish or need to. Current trends show that some older workers who lose their jobs take longer to re-enter the workforce, which impacts on their wellbeing and their income.

“Ageism, discrimination, negative stereotypes and attitudes towards older people all impact on the quality of later working lives and are considered in the strategy.”

The strategy is available on the SuperSeniors website: www.superseniors.msd.govt.nz

ENDS

Contact Richard Ninness 021 892 536

Note for editors:

  •  Within the next decade it is predicted there will be a million seniors and by 2034, an estimated quarter of the population - 1.2 million New Zealanders - will be aged 65+.
  • In 2001, when the last Positive Ageing Strategy was created, there were nearly 50,000 people aged 85+. Last year there were nearly 87,000 people 85 or older – 15% of the senior population. That number is predicted to rise to 179,000 in 2034.)
  • The senior population is also increasingly diverse.  By 2034 the number of Māori aged 65+ will more than double from 2018 figures (from 48,500 to 109,400) the senior Pacific population will also do this (from 21,300 to 46,700), and there will be nearly three times as many Asian NZers aged 65+ (from 59,500 to 171,900).
  • Seniors currently make up around 6.2% of the workforce.  By 2033 the number of seniors at work will nearly double and they will make up 10.6% of the workforce.
  • It is estimated that by 2031 seniors will contribute $35.5 billion to the economy through paid and unpaid work, up from $17.5 billion in 2016.