International Day of Families, 15 May
Families help promote active ageing and solidarity between generations
“The increasingly stressful and demanding rhythm of our everyday life make it all the more necessary to support families and recognize the important role played by older people within families”, states Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary-General of AGE Platform Europe, adding “In the context of the demographic change, families can help address future social and economic challenges, but they need help as well.”
On the occasion of the International Day of Families on 15 May, AGE Platform Europe and the Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE) would like to highlight the very important contribution brought by many older people in society through the role they play within families as grandparents, parents and informal carers. Given the heavy constraints currently put on parents, due to their family and professional responsibilities, the support provided by grandparents in caring for young children and helping with everyday tasks is crucial. Many grandparents devote their time to help their grandchildren with their school homework, teach them healthy eating habits or spend time with them in constructive leisure. In doing so, they support children’s development and education and their parents’ employment. They also often provide financial assistance for their adult children and care for older dependent relatives and as such are helping limit the pressure of demographic ageing on the public purse.
2012 being the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, we should seize the opportunity of the International Day of Families to stress the important role played by families in the promotion of active ageing, independent living and intergenerational solidarity, which are the main objectives of the EU Year. Indeed, families enable older people to be more active in bringing a useful contribution, offer a privileged place for exchange and cooperation between the different age groups, and help promote older people’s independent living, as informal care is mostly provided by family members.
This year the theme of the International Day of Families is “Ensuring Work-Family Balance”. In light of the long term challenges like falling birth-rates and ageing population with an ever shrinking labour supply, European social policies should give more emphasis to work and family life balance policies in tackling and preventing poverty and social exclusion. Any policy that supports the combining of family and professional life must also thrive to foster intergenerational solidarity.
“In a society for all ages, social issues such as migration, health care provision, poverty prevention or retirement age are of great importance to both older people and families alike. To address these questions and highlight reconciliation policies COFACE calls for 2014 to be the European Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life, an initiative which could also be a great opportunity to give continuity to the previous European Years such as 2012”, added Annemie Drieskens, COFACE President.
For these reasons, COFACE and AGE jointly call for the EU to take the needs of families in all their diversity into account and recognize the useful contribution of families when drafting policies to support active and healthy ageing and promote the objectives of the EY2012.