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Because, too often, getting old is perceived as a threat instead of an achievement, both for individuals and for societies.

The growing numbers of older people are seen as a burden on younger, working people. Yet, as we age today, we tend to be in much better health than previous generations. And today’s older people have valuable skills and experience that younger people can draw on and benefit from.

Staying active as we grow older is key to tackling the challenge of ageing.

Active ageing is about:

  • giving older people the chance to participate fully in society
  • promoting job opportunities for older people
  • enabling older adults to actively contribute through volunteer work (often as family caregivers)
  • enabling older people to live independently thanks to adapted housing, infrastructure, IT applications and transport.

Raising awareness. Spreading good practice. Encouraging policymakers and stakeholders at all levels to facilitate active ageing.

The EU can support this in policy areas such as employment, public health, information society, transport and social protection.

The European Commission will invite national, regional and local governments, civil society, employer and employee organisations to commit to specific actions and goals (2011), so that tangible achievements can be presented during the European Year itself (2012).

Commitments can:

  • relate to employment, participation in social activities, adult learning, senior volunteering, independent living, healthy ageing, etc.
  • be made by any public or private body
  • remove obstacles that prevent older people from continuing to work
  • include public debates to raise awareness
  • identify priorities for action.
  • Cities can join the WHO's age-friendly cities programme. Companies can improve working conditions for older workers. Civil society organisations can foster senior volunteering.

The EU has already taken initiatives to promote active ageing in the areas of employment strategy, adult education, public health and the information society. The European Year will give these efforts greater visibility.

Yes – from existing EU programmes such as the European Social Fund, Life Long Learning and the Research Framework Programme. More information on funding opportunities will be available on this site by September.

Each EU country will appoint a national coordinator to organise activities relating to the European Year. The Commission will coordinate at EU level and encourage everyone involved to share information.