9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Ageing and Technology 1 Building II, C5.08

Ageing and Quality of Life-related Policies: A Preliminary Review of European Initiatives on Assistive Technologies

Almost every country in the world is deeply changing its demographic structure. By 2050, nearly 1.5 billion people will be 65 or over. Most of them will reside in today´s less developed regions (1.2 billion). However, Europe will continue to be the most aged region worldwide. At present, Europe-27 countries´ hold almost 84 million people aged 65 or older (16.9% of the total population). The European Union has long reflected about the implications, challenges and opportunities set off by ageing societies, since political and socio-economical developments in European countries have allowed their populations to live longer lives. Nevertheless, longer lives do not imply better living conditions.

Increased life expectancy, for instance, has raised the prevalence of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, furthered dependency-related illnesses, changed family relations, and also added budgetary pressure to the already tight public resources. As a result, the Europe-27 old age dependency ratio is running a non-stop race from 22.5 in 1997 to 25.2 in 2007 and, as projected by Eurostat, to 50.47 in 2060.

Are health and good quality of life at risk? If so, what role can Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) play? Assistive Technologies (AT) could play a key role in social inclusion, independency and autonomy with regards to ageing and e-health.

The European Commission (EC) has put together great efforts towards the allocation of community resources on age-related research. Accordingly, the main instrument the EC has laid down for research, the UE Framework Programme, has been including ageing as one of its main topics since 1998 (FP5, FP6 AND FP7).

A preliminary analysis of the policy implications of AT-related projects and initiatives supported by the EC and other Spanish institutions will be carried out. The goal of this analysis is to overcome the difficulties to get homogeneous information on policies supporting AT at the local, regional and national level. It is argued that the findings of this analysis can enhance policy-maker´s capabilities to mobilise stakeholders´ and researchers´ scope of analysis on the AT sector in Saint Sebastian, Spain.