Ian Paisley backs campaign to support ageing society

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley at Merck's WE100 photoshoot in Parliament Square earlier this week.
North Antrim MP Ian Paisley at Merck's WE100 photoshoot in Parliament Square earlier this week.

Ian Paisley MP has pledged support for a global campaign which aims to raise awareness about the importance of supporting older people to remain healthy for longer

He was among Members of Parliament from across the House, who came together this week to lend their support for WE100, a global campaign by Merck - a leading science and technology company which next year celebrates its 350th anniversary - and posed with a special WE100 bench placed on Parliament Square.

MPs committed to ‘trying something new’ for the campaign photoshoot to illustrate that it is important to keep trying new things as you get older. These ‘firsts’ included juggling and playing the saxophone.

Previous research commissioned by Merck found that 50 per cent of people admitted they were put off doing new things as they got older, which can have a negative impact on health. According to the research up to a fifth of people will never get around to doing some of the things they want to, because they feel too old, scared or lonely to give it a go.

Data from the Office for National Statistics show that centenarians are the fastest growing age group in the UK. In 2002 there were just 7,750 people in the UK 100 years or older, nearly doubling to 14,910 in 2016.

By 2050 22% of the world’s population will be over 60, meaning that extreme old age will soon be the norm rather than the exception.

The campaign - WE100 - challenges how society views an ageing society by implementing initiatives and social activities focused on promoting quality of life for older people and maintaining physical activity in older age.

WE100 is supported by celebrity ambassadors such as Janet Street Porter and has launched volunteering initiatives in local communities and worked with campaign partners such as Boots to educate and promote the campaign’s aims through a CPD programme for pharmacists, as well as working with charities such as Contact the Elderly.

Ian Paisley, MP for North Antrim said: “Northern Ireland needs to start thinking now about the social impact of an ageing society and how we ensure that a longer life means a healthy life.

“Campaigns like WE100 do a vital job in highlighting the challenges – but also the opportunities – of an ageing society. There are several messages and initiatives which I know will resonate with my constituents and I very much support Merck in raising this important issue.”