In Europe poverty in old age exists and it threatens to increase even more in the next decades. Meanwhile, almost one out of two people fears not having enough money in old age.
Unemployed people and those who have earned little money, women, persons with migration background and disabled people are especially in danger.
Self-employed people who do not enjoy the right to public pension system also suffer this threat and they do not earn enough to create supplies on their own. Poverty in old age is not a marginal phenomenon. About 15% of old people are threatened by the risk of income shortage. If we do not take decisively countermeasures, the divergences between incomes in old age will increase more and more. Bearing in mind that poverty in old age is especially serious because old people have hardly means to get over the situation on their own.
In order to ensure the financial security in old age, an adjustment of the basic pension adapted to each case needs and with transparent rules is necessary. Moreover, the rights to have a sufficient pension are necessary. For this, it is also needed to set minimum salaries, the worse paid sector must be reduced and a new decrease of pensions must be avoided.
(In Germany, the minimum salary is 8.50€/hour since early this year.)
A greater balance between family and professional life is necessary, especially for single-parent families and people who look after some relative, so in these situations as well they are able to create supplies for old age.
Access to labour market for the elderly may be provided and their discrimination must be removed. For people with migration background and long-term unemployed people, specific means of support are required.
Improvements are also needed in social participation of the elderly. When links are early set, when there are both neighbourhood engagement and a good framework near home, the elderly can stay longer within their family environment. Because of the life expectancy increase, many more people than previously need help in their daily life and in care they require.
Whether in retirement homes or in private houses, help from family members and volunteers cannot be replaced. In addition, a well organised network by state and charitable organisations and associations for old and needy people should be available.
It is important to improve the prevention in order to avoid future retired people’s poverty. The struggle against poverty in old age starts in nursery school. Education fosters inclusion; the lack of education leads to exclusion.
From a child who grows up under poverty conditions and marginalization arises a poor adult who will continue so until old age.
That is the reason why the EU is well advised to start the struggle against poverty in old age from the nursery school.
The main goal of health policy should be to promote health and to prevent disease before treating it. People socially disadvantaged get ill more often and die before the rest of the population. For this reason, we must take on them, because people with health problems have then worse opportunities in labour market and they are, therefore, more in danger of poverty. This is a vicious circle.
In many cities, quarters with concentred urbanistic, economic and social troubles have been created. But adapted and affordable homes and a healthy life environment are key values for social inclusion. Life in old age means that houses must be built up without obstacles and must be adapted for the age, for old people so they do not have to move to a retirement home because of a lack of adapted houses. But currently, many families are out of breath because of rental increase and are forced to live in areas with worse living conditions.
Due to the crisis impact, more and more retired people are forced to accept a half-time job in order to make ends meet.
In Germany, opportunities for old people within the labour market have increased and the government forecasts that they will keep increasing in the future. In order to reach an age-friendly Union, a staff and young workers exchange inside Europe would be ideal.
Poverty in old age represents currently a serious problem in Europe. In order to avoid this circumstance getting worse in the future, the struggle for an improvement of older generations’ situation in our society cannot stop!!!