Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

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A call for action to help an ageing population: we want your help!

Europe is getting older. Over the next 50 years, the number of over-65s is going to double; in the future, millions of Europeans could be over 100.

That's a tribute to medical science. But also a challenge. I'm one of those over-65s: I know that as we get older we all want to know we'll be cared for. But caring for that population will take resources: and governments need to account for that, even in (or perhaps because of) these times of austerity. But it's not just about government costs: elderly people have so much to give – and keeping them able to give is a great benefit for our economy and society, and not least for the elderly themselves. Make no mistake: modernising health and pension systems is already a big priority in this time of crisis. If we don't take action, at some point we might suddenly find that we can't have healthcare for all, or that pension rights have been eroded. So we need to start implementing reforms right now. And this is a great time for decisive action: both because all governments are looking closely at spending, and because 2012 is the Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. What's more: now's a good time to start thinking about new economic opportunities. The elderly are a huge growth market; they need innovative services and products. If we provide them, it's good for EU growth and good for our citizens. Well, you may wonder why the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda is concerned about this – let me tell you, it's not only because of my age! It's because, if caring for this elderly population is going to be in any way sustainable, we're going to need to get smart and find new solutions. Solutions that are more affordable – and which preserve (and even boost) the dignity and independence of elderly people. Innovation and digital technology can do this: it can find solutions that help people keep their independence for longer, and that also are more sustainable and affordable to operate. Whether it's preventing the falls that are so debilitating for older people, or remote monitoring, or helping people follow their prescription: technology can help. But we need your help to do this. Because it's only by getting a lot of different actors together that we're going to make a difference. Whether you're in the technology sector, the health and care sector, or just someone who knows what kind of technology would make elderly people's lives easier. Yesterday we launched our formal "invitation to commitment" – a call for people to join in. Plus we announced that we're going to create a "marketplace" for people to share innovative ideas. If you're ready to share ideas or even sign up to one of the specific actions of our Strategic Implementation Plan, we want to hear from you now!
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  • Chris Conder's picture

    We are going to help all the older folk get online in our area, by providing them a solid, dependable, affordable connection. Where we live people are struggling on dial up and satellites, so we are building a rural fibre community network of people. We dig where we live. We will also be livestreaming church services, school plays and local village events for the housebound. We also have a whole heap of local doctors who want to use doctor skype. The future is coming and we want to be ready for IT. chris @ b4rn.org.uk
  • Nico van Meeteren's picture

    One-hundred-and-fifty years of innovation resulted in a successful society and as a consequence life expectancy and welfare - despite health problems - raised. Persuasive continuation of innovation will have to help us out and is best to be helpful when innovation itself is innovated: more integrative and multilevel, more civic driven, more participatory, predictive, preventive and personalized, more accompanied by social and cultural innovation (leadership!) and all of this towars a tipping point in society.   
  • Jan Walburg's picture

    Assen, March 3rd, 2012 Together with the rural municipality of Vejen Kommune in Denmark and Kabelnoord at Dokkum in The Netherlands as co-initiators, I am investigating the possibilities to start an EU/InterregNS project on eHealth and Active and Healthy Aging in a rural setting: a transnational approach - focussed and flexibel. At the moment the initiators are writing the draft of a project framework, which will be the flexibel basis for the partner search in the North Sea Region. The framework will be based on EU policy documents: Europe 2020, the Digital Agenda for Europe, the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Aging, as well as on the relevant EU policy documents on rural and regional development. Possible themes (workpackages) are: municipalities, citizens/patients and ICT home care regions, regional hospitals and ICT health care citizens/patients and their GPs - health monitoring (by smart phones?) The exact pilot activities at each of the future project locations are not yet known at this moment and they will - of course - be selected and developed further with the potential project partners in the next months. A transnational approach is really essential for the success of the future project. We are looking for project partners (e.g.: municipalities, regions, regional hospitals, specialised ICT companies) from Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom. The experience in Scotland with telecare and telehealth might be a good inspiration to start with. It is the intention to ask for funding amongst others from the future Interreg VB North Sea Region Programme (under development). I hope that this information is sufficient at the moment. If you need more information, please do not hesitate to contact me at the address below. Do you want to join? I am looking forward to hearing from you. Jan Walburg Smaragdstoep 21 NL-9403 SE  ASSEN The Netherlands e-mail: bureau.walburg@iaf.nl tel.: 0031 592 406570 fax: 0031 592 406055 mobile: 0031 6 5137 8248 (not always available)
  • Keimpe Bleeker's picture

    Thank you for the information and I would love to participate in the project within the meaning of project capacity! As an Independent Professional I have been involved in a previous project in the framework of Interreg IVB (‘ 07 – ‘13), focused on caring communities in the rural area of northern Friesland. The Dutch project name was ‘Transitie Programma in de Langdurige Zorg’, in particular ‘Omkeer 2.0’ (http://lyt.sr/21w0v). If my help and experience could be of any assistance for the project, I would be delighted if you should get in touch with me. Keimpe Bleeker Oentsjerk, Friesland, The Netherlands E: mdc@ynform.nl T: +31 653 369791
  • Hein de Graaf's picture

    Being 65 myself I was very pleased to read your blog. Keeping our independence longer is something we all want. While agreeing with everything you said, I must tell you that the emphasis on Health and Care and Services is understandable and very important, but we tend to forget ICT to improve happiness, fun, pleasure, not feeling lonely and left out. Social networks as they are don't seem to cover that issues (look at the statistics of the users). They are about exchanging things not about meeting (potential) friends and family. Already 4 years I am trying (together with Dutch national organisations and expert friends) to start experiments in municipalities to combine physical meetings with virtual meetings in a 3D environment aiming at fun and gain. We will be able to make this start within the framework of the project Discover within the CIP programme, starting in April this year. We will try to fit this into the new European initiatives you have launched. The name of our activities is VayaV (Virtually Young again). If you or anyone reading this, wants to know more, contact me: drs. hein de graaf, heindegraaf@astra-com.nl .

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