2015 marks the the 25th
Internatonal Day of Older persons. As in our
societies, people tend to live longer and in good health –a very positive
development indeed– it is quite logical that the EU highlights all the
advantages of ‘active ageing’ (remaining active on the labour market is good
for the pension schemes), not forgetting either that older citizens represent
an attractive population for a series of markets (travel, culture, leisure,
sports, education, life-long learning…), at least when considering those who
have the financial means to purchase these services… However, there seems to be
less interest for those older citizens who do not have the resources to invest
in leisure activities etc, and are no longer on the labour market -sometimes
have been out of it for many years.
How does the EU involve its older citizens who do not
have the opportunity of travelling, playing golf, buying season tickets for
concerts, following courses for senior citizens…? Are we not once again
catering for the ‘have’s’ and neglecting the ‘have-not’s’? What is the EU doing
to reduce the gap between them?
Read more about "active ageing” on the European Commission website
Read more about the 25th International Day of Older Persons
One of COFACE's big concerns is that public policy may see intergenerational solidarity as purely a family matter to the exclusion of public solidarity, especially where caring for dependent elderly people is concerned. Leaving family carers to provide all the care for dependent elderly people undermines the social inclusion (poverty risk), health (physical and/or mental exhaustion) and gender equality (most family carers are still women) of these families.
But these challenges can also be seen as real opportunities. Increasing life expectancy in particular is a big opportunity for those who wish to keep working longer, and to engage in other fulfilling or rewarding activities for others (volunteering, family life with grandchildren and even great grandchildren, continuing learning, etc.) which also make a real contribution to society (e.g., grandparent-provided childcare, volunteer-staffed homework clubs, etc.).
Furthermore, the social and health services sector is already a major and still expanding employment growth area, something that is not lightly to be dismissed in a recession.
Building an inclusive society for the elderly also means tapping all manner of innovative ventures and technologies, which offers real potential for creating jobs and developing research and new technologies.
See also: http://europa.eu/ey2012/
1. Grandparents and Seniors Action, Gezinsbond, Belgium
Gezinsbond offers various services for families. Through the Grandparents and the Senior Action (GOSA) programme it provides continuous help, guidance and information for grandparents. Particularly, GOSA pays special attention to families where children are often left home, and to families expecting a grandchild. At local level GOSA offers several services for ageing people such as arranging meeting possibilities, holiday opportunities, sport activities, relaxation, specific trainings…
It also publishes the newly developed "Letter to Young Grandparents” which communication tool represents the key mission of Gezinsbond; provide support and information to families in different phases of their life. Furthermore, GOSA offers the following services to its members: managing crisis situations as a grandparent, providing information on health insurance premiums, helping grandchild and grandparent relationships.
Additionally, Gezinsbond publishes a quarterly newspaper „ACTIVE” which publication provides up-to-date information to grandmothers and grandfathers on today’s society. This magazine also introduces all the themes and activities of GOSA.
2. Granny/Grandpa Service, KFÖ, Austria
In Austria, the Granny – Service helps young families to find babysitting for those whose grandparents are either deceased or not available for quick babysitting. Young couples often search for a reliable person to care for their children, in line with many older people who would like to take care of children, however in their own environment there is no way to do so. To merge both interests, the Association of Catholic Organisations of Austria offers special care service by carefully selecting, training and mediating substitute "Grannies”.
The Granny Service programme endeavours families and grandmas (and sometimes grandfathers) to get together, thus older people can bring their experience, love and patience as a valuable contribution to family life and in turn get to know the problems of the younger generation. It is a short-term care service in the area of Graz for an average rate of six to eight Euros per hour. At this moment KFÖ’s programme activates more than 100 Grannies with growing success and reputation in Austria.
3. "The Age, the problem” project, Famillesde France
"The Age, the problem” project aims to organise andfacilitate discussion between different generations: children, adolescents,seniors and families, on how to live together and learn from each other.Between March and July 2012, the organisers of this project will visit targetedaudiences in Metz, France to collect and hearevidences or proposals which stories will be later transformed into anexhibition. The presentation of the project results will includethree aspects: a wall of photographs, an exhibition panel and movie screening.After the first experimental exhibition, Familles de France is planning toprepare more materials to be used for meetings or conferences to reflect on thetheme of intergenerational living. The following stakeholders are targeted withthe initiative: wider public, several decision makers and politicians, civilsociety organisations, service providers, companies etc.
4. Family and Childcare Centre-KMOP, Greece
Sincethe late 1970s, the Athens-based KMOP has been engaged in several activitiesaiming to improve the quality of life of elderly and to promote theirindependent living conditions. In 1979, KMOP was assigned by the Greek Ministryof Health & Social Welfare to design and set up the first Open CareCommunity centres (KAPI) in various areas of the Attiki region, Greater Athens.KMOP successfully operated these Centres up to 1983, when they were handed overto local authorities. KMOP still maintains an advisory role with these Centres,with strengthened focus in 2012 when the European Year revolves around thequestions of ageing and intergenerational solidarity.
In the years that followed, KMOP’s social services consistently providedadvisory services to elderly people, focused on the development of innovativeactions and the exchange of elderly- centred "know how”. KMOP is also veryactive in European projects such as: HOPE, a platform which enables elderly peoplewith Alzheimer’s disease to use innovative technologies for a more independentlife, or AGNES which aims to enhance the quality life of older people. Additionally,KMOP participated in the ‘European Reference Framework Online for thePrevention of Elder Abuse and Neglect’(EuROPEAN) project which was funded bythe European Commission and aimed to establish, over a two year period, a referenceframework of good policy measures and practices for the prevention of elderabuse.
In 2012, KMOP continues to provide integrated services to seniorcitizens through the implementation of the aforementioned projects, as well asthe development of new activities aiming to assist elderly in their everydaylife and promote their rights in Greece and abroad.
5. Integrational Loans, Fonds duLogement Wallon, Belgium
Fonds du Logement Wallon (FLW), (Walloon Housing Fund)is a cooperative corporation active on advising, monitoring, and coordinatingorganisations working in the field of housing, finance or social servicepolicies. FLW’s Integrational Loansproject provides support for retirement aged persons as well as seniors whooften prefer to continue to live in their homes, houses and everydayneighbourhood, close to their family in contact with their relatives.Individuals who wish to not to integrate and obtain nursing home care servicesmay apply for FLW counselling and advice.
In this context, FLW has adapted its mechanism of support for familiesby allowing them to benefit from reduced-rate mortgages therefore able to hostone or more parents who are at least 60 years. After the official agreement,the elderly parents resides either in the home of a relative or in a specificneighbourhood located close to the base property of the family member. Theproject also aims to contribute to the changing needs of an ageing populationwhich Europe is experiencing, boostintergenerational relationships between grandparents and grandchildren as wellas help the improvement of the safety circumstances of senior’s people.
6. Service Laïque d’Aide auxPersonnes (SLP), Centre D’Action Laïque (CAL), Belgium
Nursing homes and care centres are emblematic placesfor the use of moral support, where elderly people, even in their late life mayexperience great distress, sometimes coupled with heavy loneliness. To ease theafflictions of these generations, CAL volunteers mobilised under thecoordination of the SLP programme to provide fraternal listening services forthose who are in need. This daily assistance aims for the exclusion of anymoral dogmatism and based on the spirit of tolerance and unpolitical values,open to all without limit associated age, gender, nationality, religiousbeliefs etc.
Assisting and listening older people may help in therecuperation of their independence or even physical condition. Volunteers maysupport families in death as well, by giving assistance to the dying orproviding aid in the organisation of the funeral.
Published on 09 Nov 2011
Updated on 02 Oct 2015