More work needs to be done, particularly in the workplace, to celebrate the valuable contribution the people aged 65 and over are making in New Zealand communities, according to a recently released study.
The Office for Seniors last week released the results of their “Attitudes to Ageing” research showing that while New Zealanders have high levels of respect for seniors and acknowledge the value of their contribution to society, there is room for improvement.
Close to a third of respondents of all ages have been shown a lack of respect due to their age at least occasionally (31 percent), while 11 percent say they have been treated badly due to their age at least occasionally.
When asked to indicate where they experience this treatment, the highest proportion of respondents who have experienced this say it was in their workplace.
Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue says it is vital those aged 65 and over are recognised for their contribution in the workplace, particularly as New Zealand has one of the highest older work rates in the OECD.
“New Zealand needs to celebrate seniors and the vital contribution they make in the workforce and to the wider community. At 20 percent, our older work rate is one of the highest in the OECD and in 20 years’ time one in four people in New Zealand will be aged 65 and over.
“We can’t afford to ignore older workers and their skills, as they are vital to our success. Society, and in particular the business sector, needs to plan for New Zealanders living longer and an ageing population and workforce.
“Employers need to develop a culture that values age and experience. They can lead by example, hire older workers and provide more flexible work arrangements,” Dr Blue says.
Other key findings included:
- A number of older people in the study also reported feeling lonely, socially isolated and/or invisible.
- 26 % of people aged 75 and over have experienced discrimination and poor treatment as a result of their age in the last 12 months.
- 62 percent of people interviewed in the survey did not feel confident New Zealand will be able to cope with the increase of its ageing population.
“All New Zealanders need to look at how our older people are supported and valued and ensure that planning takes place for the increase in our ageing population,” Dr Blue says.
“This will mean examining attitudes, access to healthcare, financial support, housing affordability and ways to integrate older people into communities so that they do not feel so isolated and are valued for their important contribution to our society.”