Extended old age is a modern phenomenon, and a tremendous achievement for contemporary society. It should be a matter for celebration but we often talk about it as a problem. Older People are a Problem is the title of one our leading novelists, Emyr Humphreys’ recent works. Inevitably, older people pick up the message that they are a burden on society, overcrowding the health service and so on. In many ways, however, the reverse is true. Older people are a huge asset to society, providing most of the volunteers that sustain the third sector. To a large extent they are the most active part of our community. They are a huge resource to younger people growing up. This bilingual report, by IWA Director John Osmond explores Welsh policy responses to our rapidly ageing society, in particular the Welsh Government’s policy which has been developing in a number of innovative ways since 2003. That year saw the appointment of a Minister for Older People which was followed by legislation for the appointment of a Commissioner for Older People, thought to be the first its kind in Europe. These interventions led some commentators to observe that Wales was “leading the world” in its vision and strategy for older people.
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