By 2040, The Netherlands will have 4.5 million inhabitants older than 65 years. The government wants older people to keep participating as full members of society.
The majority of elderly people in the Netherlands are doing well. Many of them are active participants within their communities, as evidenced by their involvement in (voluntary work) and informal care provision they carry out. Their healthy life expectancy and favourable socio-economic position opens the way to a relatively long social life.
Yet there are also vulnerable elderly persons who experience impediments of participating in society. Examples of these impediments include poor physical or psychological health, undergoing dramatic life events, poverty, total or virtual inability to read and write, as well as limited digital skills. Elderly persons who would want to participate in society, but who do not do so, also deserve extra attention. According to recent policy documents by government, these older persons can count on support.
Under the Social Support Act the municipalities are responsible for setting up social support. The aim is participation of all citizens to all facets of the society, whether or not with help from friends, family or acquaintances; the perspective is a coherent policy in the field of the social support and related areas. In order to enable this group to participate, the government in addition funds a number of programmes aimed at assisting the elderly with complex health care issues and breaking through their social isolation: The National Care for the Elderly Program, Up to Care!, Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme (AAL JP), Visibile Link (community nurse for a healthy neigbourhood) and Care for Better.
Living at home
To facilitate the elderly living at home (as opposed to living in a rest home or care institution), the government encourages municipalities, social housing associations and care institutions to build homes adapted to the needs of older people. Accessible local care also plays a part in helping the elderly to be independent for as long as possible. In order to achieve this, a new focus has been placed on creating local health care networks where general practitioners, nurses and other care givers cooperate in offering custom care to patients.