In the run-up to the general election on 14 October 2023, Age Concern New Zealand has issued a document listing key issues of concern for older people in New Zealand. The aim is to inform aspiring politicians and the wider New Zealand population of these issues and advocate for action to address and improve the support and services provided for older people.
Age Concern aims to ensure that older New Zealanders get the very best advice and support no matter where they live, to ensure delivery of services that support the wellbeing and rights of older people.
Housing and urban design
Age Concern advocates for changes to the building regulations to mandate universal design and age friendly standards; action to grow the stock of affordable, secure, accessible and healthy housing that meets the needs of older people; and, supports planning to enable older people to age in place.
Income and cost of living
Age Concern stresses that many older people live on fixed incomes with little or no flexibility to meet rising costs. They therefore advocate for retaining 65 as the eligibility age for NZ Superannuation; seeks recognition of the detrimental impact of repayments required for supplementary assistance; recommends a review of the Accommodation Supplement to ensure it fits current needs; and, supports moves by the Retirement Commission to educate and encourage all New Zealanders to save and prepare for retirement, with emphasis on equitable outcomes for all.
Loneliness and social connection
Tackling social isolation and loneliness requires the commitment of people and resources.
Age Concern encourages Government and its agencies to recognise the need for social connection for older people as part of their policy considerations; and it seeks increased funding for agencies involved in combatting loneliness and improving social connections for older people.
Health services and access
Age Concern points to the need for a comprehensive Government approach to the provision of health services. Specifically, it calls for recognition of the role of family carers, particularly those enabling older people to remain in their own homes; equitable access funding for community support services and carer respite for older people; that the Interim, and succeeding, Health Plans include accessible and equitable health services for all older people.
Elder abuse services and prevention
Age Concern has developed expertise and leadership in the provision of elder abuse and neglect prevention services. It calls for increased funding for such services including prevention and education services both in the workforce and in the wider community social services.