This subject leads us to think about the difficulties faced by the discriminated elderly in our present world and our attention given to them, specially to the poorest and unprotected ones.
We are facing a problem that, if well observed, affects everybody. Portugal is not an exception! Nevertheless, and according to the information we have, Portugal does not belong to the most affected countries for the moment.
Senior citizens have always been a sort of discriminated group in our country, so personally talking as institutionally.
Personal discrimination is remarkable in cities and towns, where we can find several institutions that the elderly can join due to a lack of purchasing power. An example of this are the houses called “Misericórdias”, and the Social Solidarity Centers, in which daily food is offered. In the most extreme situations, and when the person in question has no relatives, they are also offered health service and full accommodation.
Families, with the nowadays way of life and difficulties, can’t hold their elderly in their own houses. In these cases they resolve to take them into Social Residences called “Lares”. Initially the relatives are with them for some hours during the weekends, but as time goes by those visits become less frequent. So the elderly are finally abandoned to their own destiny and usually die without their relatives or friend by them.
Institutional Discrimination. Pensions in Portugal have recently begun to be referenced with inflation and in average they are quite low. That’s why elderly who live alone can’t afford essential dispenses to live decently, which are food, house rental, power, water and specially health services. In most cases their pensions are not enough to cover their prescriptions, so they only have the help given by the social Solidarity Institutions, from which they depend more and more. This is the nowadays situation in which our poorest elderly live.
Discrimination is specially remarked in those who won’t be granted a credit, in particular those above 70 years old. We must say that some institutions have increased their range of age for credit until 80 years old, buts the conditions of guarantee and the expenses of life insurance are exorbitant. On the other hand, widow’s pensions represent the 50% of the last pension perceived, and the total is for the spouse if without children. In case of being a disabled or a minor, the pension will be shared between the spouse and the rest of heirs, being the 25% each part.
Discrimination gets smoother or practically disappears for people with high pensions, allowing them to live a life of dignity and happiness, being at home with their relatives or in high standing residences in which they enjoy full accommodation and have no lacks of any kind. Many of them still live at their own homes: thanks to their wealthy situation they can even afford personal assistance.
We must underline the fact that the crisis we’re going through won’t be easily erased by our world of globalization. That is, with our purchasing power slowing down and the lazy activity of some of our most prestigious companies, what can we expect from the future? Just a dark landscape affecting a big part of our workers. Companies closing make unemployment to grow up and, unavoidably, that comes along with a increasing amount of people who need help. Poorness spreads around and leaves its scars. Nowadays not only the traditionally unprotected groups request help to the Solidarity Institutions. The unemployed, even the middle-class ones, need their help to carry out with their commitments and try to survive with a minimum of dignity, feeling discriminated in several aspects of social life.