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The national Danish launch of the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations took place on January 19th in Copenhagen and focused its message on the importance of ending with stereotypical perceptions of older people and promoting initiatives helping them to age healthy and actively.
Minister of Social Affairs and Integration, Karen Hækkerup, opened the conference remarking it is essential to help older people stay healthy and active, from both an ethical and an economic perspective. The director of the National Board of Health, Else Smith, told the audience that Danes not only live longer, but also have healthier lives. Professor Jørn Henrik Petersen, from the Centre for Welfare State Research (*University of Southern Denmark), pointed out that this fact should make Danes contribute longer on the labour market.
The Municipality of Copenhagen’s Mayor of Health and Care, Ninna Thomsen, explained the municipality’s reform program concerning elderly care. The program will replace passive care with training and rehabilitation in order to help older people be more self-reliant and retain a higher quality of life.
Lifestyle analyst Jørn Duus Hansen argued that modern societies should assess people by looking at their functional abilities instead of their age. And Director of SBK Scandinavia, John Hermansen, remarked that older, experienced workers are highly valued and much needed in the labour market.
Before the closing of the conference by acting Minister of Health, Pia Olsen Dyhr, a panel debated the challenges and opportunities of the ageing Danish society. Erik Simonsen, from DA (Confederation of Danish Employers), and Christian Sølyst, from LO (Danish Confederation of Trade Unions) agreed that for many older people being part of the ordinary labour market is perfectly reconcilable with maintaining a high quality of life.
Bjarne Hastrup, from Dane Age, pointed out the importance for older workers of being valued and recognized. “Employers should tell their older employees: we would like you to stay on working here”, he urged.