SILVER SMEs’ advisory partner Euromontana recently met with a member of Dubravka Šuica’s cabinet to discuss the issue of ageing in mountain areas.

Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner responsible for Democracy & Demography, has been commissioned to issue a report on the Impact of Demographic Change which should be published on June 17, 2020. The report will aim at mapping demographic changes in the EU and taking stock of the challenges related to these transformations. Based on the report, the Commissioner will later present a Green Paper on Ageing which will propose solutions to improve the quality of life of older generations.


Ageing mountain areas

As a consequence of youth migration, rural areas are among the most ageing territories in the EU – so do mountain areas. The highest concentrations of people over 65 can be observed in rural, mountainous and sparsely population areas. Looking at the latest statistics for instance, on the top 6 of ageing regions in Europe, 4 are mountainous. The central Greek region of Evrytania is the most ageing region of the EU, with one third of its population being over 65. Then come Ourense (Spain), Creuse (France) and Alto Tâmega (Portugal), with respectively 31.2%, 30.1% and 30% of their population being over 65.

Rural, mountainous and sparsely populated areas are therefore the territories most affected by the challenges arising from an ageing population: lack of adapted goods and services, need for care employees, mobility and housing issues and need for adapted cultural and tourism offer to meet the needs of active, fragile and dependent older adults.


Opportunities arising from the Silver Economy

Euromontana shared with the cabinet of Šuica its recommendations for efficient and inclusive ageing policies that take into account the demography of territories and consider the challenges emerging from rural and mountainous areas.

Beyond topics such as the need for accessible healthcare services and inclusive rural communities, Euromontana also stressed the importance of the Silver Economy for rural mountainous regions. Not only companies of the sector can provide older adults with adapted services but they can also create employments in rural and mountainous regions in various sectors such as care and at-home services, leisure activities, tourism and housing.

Euromontana illustrated its recommendations with goods practices collected by SILVER SMEs partners. The Gullogården retirement home (a good practice from region Dalarna) was showcased as an example of housing offer adapted to the needs of vulnerable and dependent older people while also rooted in a natural mountainous environment.

Likewise, La Exclusiva (a good practice from Sodebur) was introduced to illustrate the need for ‘reversed mobility’ offer: while some older adults can access goods and services by themselves, others need these goods and services to come to them, in particular vulnerable and dependent older people. With its 5 delivery routes creating in the rural Province of Burgos, its age-friendly booking options, and its no added cost policy, La Exclusiva is an ideal example of rural SME improving ageing conditions and building social cohesion while also creating employment.

Euromontana also built on the study visits organised by the Cork Institute of Technology in February 2020 and the implementation of the Age-Friendly-Town programme of the World Health Organisation to advocate for more uptake in mountainous areas, for example with access ramps, public benches with armrests, wider dedicated parking lots closer to shops in village.

For more information on the opportunities arising from the Silver Economy and on the needs of older adults living in mountain areas, you can read Euromontana’s note to the European Commission “Ageing in mountain areas - Contributions of Euromontana for the Green Paper on Ageing” (also available in French).