Stereotypes and age related discrimination
Old age is seen as a weight for the society as funding has to be found for their pensions, support for worsening health and institutions for those who can no manage alone. Other stereotypes see those working over 65 years of age as not having the right to work because they “steal” young peoples’ jobs, as being unable to learn new skills, and thee stereotypes affect older people negatively as well as young, leaving them with the sense of being without purpose, rights and a voice.
Age discrimination is the only form of inequality that is still accepted as normal, legal and justified and is a basic barrier for social inclusion and equal participation for older people with negative consequence for individuals and in the society. It is evident that we need a new perspective and realignment of social policy so that people of all ages change their attitudes about growing old and Greece develops a society that is friendly for all ages.
Deficiencies in Health and Long-Term Health Care (YMFY – HLTHC)
Promoting healthy lifestyles by reducing risk factors for disease and disability are key factors in increasing Healthy Life Years (HLY). The lack of an organized and accessible PHC system results in the use of more expensive secondary health services (hospitals). According to Greece’s health profile (WHO: The state of health in the EU, 2019), of the10% of households with unmet needs, four out of five report cost as the main obstacle to access to care. Finally, regarding the rehabilitation of the health of older people after illness or accident, the lack of an organized state rehabilitation service reflects the need for state intervention, in order to improve the quality of life and health of Greek older people and their families.
Of the daily help and care needed by older people with health problems and needs for support, 90% is provided by informal caregivers, mainly women relatives (spouses and adult children), with minimal state support, and the few existing programs and structures (such as Help-at-Home, Elderly Care Units) are fragmentary and inadequate. The main axis for defending the rights of older people with needs for long-term health care and their families, is the development of policies for the recognition of informal caregivers and practical measures to support both them and the older people they care for.
Such technologies typically include mobile phones, personal computers, the Internet and related services. Across the EU, the proportion of people over the age of 55 who have never used a computer was higher than 65% in Italy, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria and especially Greece (78%).
The digitization of government services, health services, interbank transactions (e-banking) and e-commerce, as well as other necessary daily habits such as communication (email, social networks) and entertainment, result in the gradual exclusion of older people from social events and the growing dependence on access to information and services. This the difficulty of communication with younger generations, reinforces negative stereotypes towards older people.
So far 10.500 participants have been trained in new technologies through 50plus programs, while the demand for similar interventions by individuals and municipalities are growing impressively, stressing the need to expand digital empowerment programs and learning opportunities for older people.
This affects individuals as well as the communities in which they live. According to a report by the World Health Organization, the environment is a decisive factor of health: it is estimated that 20% of all deaths in the European Union are due to causes related to this. For example, falls are the number one cause of mortality due to an accident, and they are responsible for 40% of deaths due to injury for people over 65 (Global report on falls prevention in Older Age, 2014). In our country, older people face a greater danger of serious injury and death as pedestrians, as the percentage of pedestrians over 65 that are involved in fatal accidents is close to 59% (ELSTAT, 2017).
The availability of adjusted local public facilities, such as parks, swimming pools, adequate public transport, to help everyone that needs them so that they can fully participate in society is increasingly important. Problems related to mobility must be dealt with adjusted public transport, suitable sidewalks, etc. Despite the efforts of some municipalities, no city in Greece has been recognized as age-friendly. In addition, home improvements, e.g. better insulation, modification of furniture and activities, etc, can help seniors live in safety and reduced health risks in their private space.
Stereotypes and the financial crisis have led to a significant increase in the unemployment rate of over 50 in recent years (19.3% of the total unemployed of which 27.5% are women and 19.4% men in 2017, source ELSTAT). At the same time, the lack of education and training programs in companies -mainly small and medium-sized but also in large- (research of ALBA Graduate Business School, The American College of Greece) and in government structures, create untrained workers who are non-competitive in the market. That causes an exclusion from the working environment. As a result, the valuable experience of older employees is not utilized, fewer jobs are available for this age group, contributions to retirement funds are reduced, social exclusion is increased and the quality of life of employees / potential employees is worsen with all the consequences on the mental and physical health.
Reducing the risk of poverty is a key goal of the Europe 2020 strategy. However, the economic crisis and the consequent restructuring and reduction of budget expenditures have led some population groups to a significant increase in poverty, especially the group of the elderly and older women.
According to the Survey on Income and Living Conditions of Households,2018 by the Hellenic Statistical Authority ELSTAT, the poverty rate before all social transfers (not including social benefits and pensions in total disposable household income) is estimated at 86,8% for persons 65 years and over, whereas when pensions are included (social transfers not included) it is estimated at 13,7%. Ensuring the sustainability of social insurance and pension systems is of great importance to all present and future generations.
Older people are socially isolated to a greater extent than younger age groups (9%), a fact according to research is related to loneliness. Results of a survey conducted by 50 plus Hellas amon its members (2020), highlighted that loneliness is the second most serious problem older people deal with. As they do not have the ability to move easily, they are often limited to their homes and immediate environments. The need for interventions to combat loneliness for older ages at local or even national level is considered imperative.