DCU is known as a campus for enterprise, but what you might not know is that DCU is also now considered an Age Friendly University.
Although many of us may be in our late teens and early 20s, this idea is one we should acknowledge because we all grow old at one age or another.. Over the next 30 years, the total number of people in Ireland aged 65 years and older is projected to be more than double what it is now and the number of those aged over 85 years will quadruple. This means that we could live to be 100 years old and could still live the college life.
I spoke to Age Friendly University Coordinator, Christine O’Kelly, about the initiative:
“Ageing is not something you think about when you are young – you live each day at a time and think you are invincible.”
Established in 2012, the scheme made DCU the world’s first officially designated Age Friendly University and is leading a global network which has been joined by higher education institutions from the USA, the United Kingdom, Australia and, of course, Ireland.
“This initiative not only seeks to support the current older population, it is about influencing policy and informing your own ageing process, having choices as you age and being supported to make the right choices,” says O’Kelly.
The initiative is promoting an inclusive approach to healthy and active ageing, and she hopes the research carried out will address issues which affect older generations both at present and in the future, as we ourselves get older. The aim is to become recognised worldwide as leaders in the areas of education, research, and innovation as regards to age-friendly initiatives. This will promote a more connected and better quality of life for older adults.
O’Kelly explains: “Research shows that our students will have a longer working career with as many as seven iterations of that career and the concept of “retirement” at late 60s will not be an option.”
By providing services to older generations now, we can pave the way for our own future and map out our ageing process. There are an abundance of options available in DCU itself with programmes ranging from single credit bearing modules to keeping fit with MedEX or the Active for Life programmes.
Old age need not be something we dread and try to avoid. With initiatives such as this in DCU, we are opening ourselves to a wider, more exciting version of growing older.
As Dwight L. Moody once told us: “Preparation for old age should begin not later than one’s teens. A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.”
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