Giving a voice to our senior citizens is essential

Four active pensioners sitting on a bench eating ice cream in Callander, Perthshire. OAP's. for special reports

Four active pensioners sitting on a bench eating ice cream in Callander, Perthshire. OAP's. for special reports

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AS NUMBERS soar, so should our efforts to make the lives of pensioners easier, writes Alex Neil

Recent figures show that between 2012 and 2037 the number of people aged 75 and over is expected to increase by 86 per cent so it’s clear we need to make sure that older people’s voices are heard.

That’s why marking the 25th UN International Day of Older Persons is so important. It’s a day where we can recognise the huge contribution older people make to our society.

We need to make sure their health and happiness is a priority – tackling loneliness and isolation remains an issue for too many older people.

Everyone has a role to play in ensuring that older people are supported within their communities. This international day serves as a reminder that we all should take a moment to check up on and spend time with elderly relatives, friends and neighbours.

As a government we are committed to putting in place policies that help the elderly enjoy healthy, active and independent lives.

We have, for example, implemented a national strategy for housing for older people which is aimed at helping more people live independently in their own homes.

Through the National Entitlement Card for Older and Disabled People we are providing accessible transport to 1.1 million over 60s.

And just last month we announced details of our new national scheme HEEPS: Warmer Homes Scotland which is aimed at supporting vulnerable, fuel-poor households who are struggling to keep warm.

Next week’s annual gathering of the Scottish Older People’s Assembly is an opportunity to discuss and debate issues that are important to older people.

Alex Neil is cabinet secretary for social justice, communities and pensioners’ rights

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