The Commissioner for Older People, Claire Keatinge, has hosted a seminar with a leading expert on ageing for politicians and policy makers on how Northern Ireland can be better prepared for ageing.

Professor Alan Walker, Director of the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme, pointed to a recent House of Lords report which concluded that the UK is "woefully unprepared for the ageing of its population," adding that this pioneering research provides the "evidence required for a fresh approach to this urgent challenge."

Speaking at the event, Claire Keatinge said:

"The number of older people in Northern Ireland is projected to increase by around 87% in the next 50 years, with more and more people living longer and healthier lives than ever before.

"Life expectancy has increased by 11 years over the past 50 years, and this trend looks set to continue with medical, social and economic advances enabling people to stay more active and engaged, which brings great hope and opportunity for the older people of tomorrow.

"Professor Walker's findings bring together a wide range of research from more than 100 top scientists and researchers who have been engaged in a collective effort to understand the changing dynamics of ageing and to produce new policies, practices and products that will enable us to respond positively to the challenges and opportunities of ageing.

"Too often ageing is perceived by society as something negative, when in reality, many older people enjoy active and engaged lives. This research identifies how we can improve the quality of life for many more older people, enabling them to live better and fuller lives.

"I am challenging politicians and policymakers to be ambitious about making Northern Ireland a better place to grow older, and calling on them to act now to plan for our ageing population."