The population percentage of older people in Northern Ireland is growing faster than in Great Britain therefore special measures, particular to Northern Ireland, need to be introduced by any new Assembly to ensure good future care.
Cllr Fitzpatrick said: “It is the duty of elected representatives to listen to the concerns of older people and to enable them to live with dignity and security in good free accommodation, free health care and transport. I want to praise the voluntary groups that tend to the needs of older people. The good work being carried out by voluntary groups needs to be acknowledged and supported, because through them available resources can be used more efficiently.
“Many older people are fiercely independent and, through pride, are reluctant to claim all of the available benefits. More effort needs to be made to ensure that they are fully aware of the benefits to which they are entitled and that the procedure for claiming benefits becomes more user-friendly.
“Public services need to be more readily available and special consideration given to older people in rebates on payment of rates, water charges, telephones and TV licenses.
“I will be working with all other interested parties to ensure that older people are not the forgotten people, and that they have the opportunity to live full and satisfying lives and play an active role the community.”