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Facing up to a european ageing population

February 2014

Is Europe capable of supporting its ageing population? The issue is primordial, both to bear the social and economic costs of this general trend across the 28 countries of the European Union (EU), and to allow ageing populations, that are frail and dependent, to enjoy a “normal” life for as long as possible. Some countries have developed legislation to implement this support and promote equal access for everyone in the public domain.

The fact that we have an ageing population is not new to us. For many years the media has echoed the concerns of the European leaders about the consequences of a lower birth rate and an increased life expectancy. Whatever the demographic scenarios, they reveal ageing populations in all the Member States of the EU for the period of 2011-2060. By 2050, the average age of a European citizen will increase from 39 to 49 years old.  Notably the number of 80-year olds and over will increase almost threefold between 2010 and 2060. The number of dependent, elderly people is expected to increase from 26% of the population in 2010 to 53% in 2060. Broadly speaking the dependency rate based on age will soar from 49% in 2010 to 78% in 2060. It is vital to prepare now for the social and economic disruption caused by the increase in dependent people and the decline in the number of caregivers.

A global observation

Outside Europe, in emerging countries where populations are generally younger, the right to access for all is increasingly prevalent. Life expectancy is increasing all over the world, regardless of the demographics of the country. This involves facing up to new problems in this area.

Supporting the ageing population

For some, remaining at home in a suitably equipped habitat with the assistance of trained personnel is the ideal solution. The alternative lies in the increase in care facilities and adapting premises to meet the requirements of local regulations and recommendations. UK, Germany and France are prime examples of countries that have legislated to impose access rights for people with disabilities in the public domain. The economic climate in recent years has not encouraged spending. In addition to financial difficulties, some technical constraints are difficult to overcome in existing buildings. As a result, many institutions are slow to comply. The provision of access for all is not only about respecting legislation, but also demonstrating society’s support for people facing a loss of independence.

An appropriate response

To ensure compliance with the law, sanitary facilities and equipment must be specially designed and adapted. Specialising in accessibility in commercial and public washrooms, DELABIE offers a range of products specifically designed for commercial installations, and healthcare facilities in particular. Incorporating grab bars in bacteriostatic stainless steel or HR Nylon, lift-up or removable shower seats, and numerous accessories, the Accessibility and Independence ranges are robust, designed to withstand intensive use. They are easy to clean and maintain to meet stringent hygiene requirements. Ergonomically designed, they are easy and safe to use. At the same time, they are available in different designs in modern, elegant materials. A great deal of attention has been paid to the design to overcome the sense of a characterless, clinical environment. Designed to fit perfectly in sanitary facilities that are accessible to all, these products contribute to the daily well-being of people, regardless of their degree of independence.