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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

One in five seniors spends the holidays alone – Volunteer service in neighborhoods is on the table

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At the time when most people are with their families to celebrate Easter together, there is also this portion of the elderly, who spend the holidays alone, without having a relative by their side, according to the data of the Tuesday Observatory Age, to confirm the conditions that prevail on our island, since one in five elderly people is locked inside four walls, all alone.

According to the numbers that the Observatory has in front of it, a percentage of elderly people of the order of 15-20%, do not have someone next to them on Easter, which essentially translates to one in five. Taking into account the concern of the elderly, as well as the dozens of incidents of violence that occurred, the Observatory of the Third Age brings back the issue of the volunteer service of an elderly neighbor, something that was discussed five years ago, but without any result.

In his statements to REPORTER, the president of the Observatory of the Third Age of Cyprus, Dimos Antoniou, said that the Observatory takes various actions, so that many elderly people have someone by their side or even people from the Observatory invite them to their home several times to celebrate Easter. “Talking with them, we also understand from our side that they are waiting for these Easter days to pass in order to 'save' the torture. It is something that we have observed in many cases and for this reason we have recommended to the state and the Deputy Ministry of Welfare, to operate a volunteer service of an elderly neighbor. That is, in every neighborhood there should be two or three volunteers who will care for them, take care of them and give them an 'aspirin' for their pain”, said Mr. Antoniou.

It is noted that this specific proposal had been discussed during the time of the former Minister of Labour, Zetas Emilianidou, in 2019 and had been put on the table to function as a service within the framework of the red button. But since the Observatory sees that the red button may be set at the end of the year, it has separated this service and asked how the volunteer neighbor of the elderly should work, to at least ease the pain of these elderly people who are alone, until the red button. “Our suggestion to the Deputy Ministry of Welfare is to finance this program to make it work, as the Observatory does not have the necessary capital to implement it,” added Mr. Antoniou.

It is worth mentioning that the elderly neighbor volunteer service is already implemented in other European countries, such as Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany, and it is something that has excellent results. For this reason, moreover, the Observatory estimates that it is one of the best practices that could be incorporated into the strategic plan for the elderly. “It is very important if there are volunteers in every neighborhood, who will know that at any time they will be able to help an elderly person who is facing a problem. It goes without saying that these volunteers will have gone through relevant training and education to be able to help,” said the president of the Observatory.

Typical, in fact, is the case of an 85-year-old man, who called the Third Age Observatory three to four times a week, just to talk to someone and hear a voice on the phone. As Mr. Antoniou stated, “we could also tell from the phone that he was happy and cheerful when we spoke. Even the smallest thing is very important to these people. Every Easter and Christmas, various memories and reminders come to the minds of the elderly with their loved ones. There are a large number of elderly people who have lost their spouses, especially women, who are neglected by their children or their children may be abroad and we see that they are alone at home.”

With reference to the incidents of violence against the elderly that come to the attention of the Observatory, Mr. Antoniou indicated that recently the complaints he received were about financial exploitation of the elderly and unacceptable behavior, but not violence. “We believe that the campaign we have carried out to inform the public on Social Media may have made a difference in the situation and the positive thing is that in the last month and a half, we have not received any complaints about incidents of violence”, emphasized Mr. Antoniou.

The Observatory's appeal to the children of the elderly is to keep their parents close these days and for the neighbors to be interested in the elderly next to them, but also in general society to embrace these individuals as they need it. “Our seniors did not come down from heaven. They are the ones who built this country, they are the ones who educated us, they are the ones who raise our children, they are the ones we made taxi drivers to serve us, they are the ones who look after our children so we can go on vacation”, concluded Mr. Antoniou.

Source: reporter.com.cy

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