Aging as an opportunity
Our society is undergoing a radical transformation, with the population structure set to fundamentally change in the coming years and decades as our society rapidly ages.
Older people will play an even more important part in tomorrow's communities than they already do. Even today, one in five of our federal state's inhabitants is over 60 – and, within a single generation, this proportion will double to almost 40 percent. Which is why we need strong bonds, fairness and responsibility between the generations. Lower Saxony wants to do justice to the different abilities and needs of young and old and foster a harmonious relationship between them.
Lower Saxony is seeking to build bridges between the generations. The action it is taking to this end includes creating "multi-generational centres", an idea born in Lower Saxony that is now being implemented nationwide. Progressive policies for senior citizens involve creating an environment in which the older members of the community can lead independent lives for as long as possible.
A policy of this kind must, however, also take account of the fact that illness, infirmity and the need for care increase as people age. As a political objective, therefore, prevention is just as important as ensuring that we see high standards in the health service and in care provision.
In our "long-life" society, the role played by older people will be more valuable than ever. Not only can we not do without their knowledge and their contribution as co-responsible citizens; we also need them to actively champion their own interests. We want to help them get more involved so that they can fully bring their experience to bear in voluntary work, politics and economic life.
Examples of policy aimed at senior citizens, and at bridging the generational divide, in Lower Saxony
Senior citizens' service bureaus
Lower Saxony was the first of Germany's non-city states to fund the progressive establishment of "Seniorenservicebüros". And now our federal state is physically setting up the first of these facilities, offering many kinds of assistance, guidance and other services to older people.
Volunteering opportunities for senior citizens
In the same way that young people often spend a gap year doing community work, this scheme enables our more mature citizens to spend one or two days a week, spread over at least a year, using their abilities and expertise in various initiatives or projects.
A regional office in Lower Saxony advising on new approaches to housing for the elderly
The Lower Saxony state government has, since January 2008, been assisting with the setting up of an independent housing advisory service ("Niedersachsenbüro Neues Wohnen im Alter") run by urban and rural local authorities. This regional office is to join forces with local government to develop new forms of housing for the elderly.
An initiative promoting "generation-friendly" products
The aim of the "Landesinitiative generationengerechte Produkte" – an exemplary nationwide network with partners from the business and scientific communities, unions, trade associations and politics – is to develop, and market, tailor-made products and services for more mature citizens. A further aim is to portray life for the elderly, with its wealth of possibilities and experiences, in a more positive light. Lower Saxony is also a member of the "Silver Economy Network of European Regions".