GAA legend launches new report which shows majority of older people
feel optimistic about getting old
2012 Pfizer Health Index finds level of population with
health insurance declining further
Thursday 27th September 2012 - Results of this year’s Pfizer Health Index, being launched to coincide with European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, are to be announced at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin later today. The Report reveals that 78% of older people feel either prepared or optimistic about getting old and 74% of older people agree that they feel growing old is on balance more a happy than sad experience. The Pfizer Health Index, now in its seventh year, details the findings of a nationally representative quantitative market research survey of the health and well-being of the Irish population.
With 95% of older people surveyed agreeing that it is important to retain independence as one ages, 50% worry about becoming a burden upon others as they age. With regards to having enough money, over 1 in 4 (26%) of older people said that they don’t have enough money to do the things they want to do, with 62% claiming to have enough money in this regard. The prevalence of modern technology in society has left 60% of older people feeling that modern technology and computers have left them behind. As far as minding grandchildren is concerned, 67% of grandparents say they don’t mind looking after grandchildren, with 17% saying they would rather not look after them.
Legendary GAA and sports broadcaster, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh and a speaker at the launch said; “Although I retired in 2010 from RTE I haven’t stopped working, doing bits and pieces here and there, which I enjoy thoroughly. I am eighty two years young, with a career that has spanned six decades, some people may think I am old, but I’ve never looked upon age as anything other than a number. I believe that as you get older you should try and maintain a healthy lifestyle - getting older doesn’t have to mean losing your health.”
When respondents were asked about nursing home care, 65% of older people are uncomfortable with the idea of living in a nursing home, with 18% comfortable. More than 72% of older people hold a medical card and well in excess of a third (37%) continue to pay for private medical insurance. 21% of older people who hold a medical card also maintain private insurance, with 6% saying that that they have neither medical or private health insurance.
Dr Dermot Power, Consultant Geriatrician, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital commented; “Geriatric medicine has become one of the largest specialities in Irish hospitals and the pressure on services will only increase with our ageing population. It is interesting to see that maintaining independence and not wanting to become an encumbrance on others comes out strongly in this research. I am acutely aware of this through my day to day job and am fully supportive of older patients being returned to their own home as soon as they are fit and well, if this is a viable option. It is where the majority of older people are happiest.”
Mr. Robin Webster, CEO, Age Action Ireland commented; “This year’s Pfizer Health Index with its focus on ageing has important messages for all of us. The maintenance of independence is crucial to positive ageing. Ireland needs a national positive ageing strategy that recognises the diversity of older people and that builds on their overwhelming optimism and their extensive service to their families and communities. Older people are not the problem but part of the solution.”
The 2012 Index illustrates a considerable fall in the proportion of the general population with private medical insurance, which now stands at 35% of the population, having been 44% two years ago. What is notable in the current year is the decline in middle class (ABC1) people who have health insurance (64% in 2010, 63% in 2011 and now 52% in 2012) with the previous year’s fall having been principally apparent among those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds (DE). The amount of people with health insurance cover amongst those from a socially disadvantaged background had been 24% in 2010, 13% in 2011 and remains at 13% in 2012. The number with a medical card in Ireland now stands at 44% of general population.
This year’s Index sees a significant increase in the general populations’ health perception, with two thirds (65%) of adults scoring their own health assessment at 8 out of 10 or higher. This is the highest personal health assessment score observed over the seven years the report has been produced and represents a substantial increase in the 7.6 score seen in 2011. Positivity about health is particularly driven by younger adults and those from middle class backgrounds. The gap in health perceptions is widest among those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, with a difference seen of over 7 percentage points when comparing personal health assessment. Older people rate their own health at 7.3 out of 10 in the 2012 survey.
“Older people are a significant asset and society is becoming increasingly aware of the contribution they make. We must encourage people to get as much as they can out of life as they grow older, whether at work, at home or in the community and strive to ensure they live a healthy and fulfilled life,” said Mr David Gallagher, Managing Director, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland. “Health prevention and disease management strategies are key in ensuring that people reach old age in good health and can continue to live full active lives.”
Published: 27th September 2012.