SOLIDARITY BETWEEN GENERATIONS - GERMANY
The continual ageing of society is one of the most important challenges we face for the future. It is a challenge which can only be overcome with the cooperation of all generations. Half of the citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany will be over 50 by the year 2035. This fact alone is a good enough reason to place even more importance on the increase of life expectancy as well as all of the challenges and handicaps associated with it.
When growing old is important to maintain family relationships and a circle of friends formed of people of all ages. In this way, is possible to achieve the objective of increasing life expectancy, as well as developing a new quality of coexistence between older and younger generations.
Sense of dignity and the personality of an individual during old age must be preserved, but it is also important that they have the opportunity to take part in an active social life. For this reason, better organisation of service provision is required. In the city of Dusseldorf, more specifically in different areas of the city, a special kind of network exists made up of older people and younger people who voluntarily help each other, with no exchange of money. Tasks involved can include for example domestic jobs, help with shopping, help with official matters and help with filling out forms. Other possibilities involve organising activities such as going to the theatre or to the museum, doing online courses or visiting tourist attractions.
Those people who are well integrated in a social network have no reason to fear growing old. Many retired people help at sports clubs; they help students with their homework, and read stories in nurseries and schools. By doing these activities, which they are not paid for, a sense of unity grows and so does the potential for generations to communicate. What is more, many young men help by providing public services during which they look after the older people who need it. These young men take great pleasure in helping. Since in Germany they want to reduce military service to sixth months, unfortunately this public services aimed to help older people will not be guaranteed in the future.
Many older people are interested in training courses and improving their knowledge base. For this reason, they enrol on IT and language courses or even start a university course. Post professional activities are not the only way to improve potential for additional income. Young peoples’ decreasing participation in society means that companies are having to resort more and more often to the labour, work experience and knowledge of older workers.
To ensure older peoples permanence in modern daily life and to help them to maintain their independence, the government needs to be asked, firstly, to build houses in the town centre which are near commercial areas for easy access to shops and to other public facilities. Secondly they must increase the potential of housing for retired people; such as retirement homes, neighboured communities and multigenerational homes.
People who raise children or care for relatives in need should have a better social and economic recognition, and be helped to return to working life!
So that the younger generations are not stopped from planning a family, politicians must do their duty and promote tax exemptions.
Solidarity between generations is not an everyday occurrence in our society. This society is becoming more and more materialistic and egotistical. Solidarity can only exist when people receive as well as give. Solidarity is an attitude an the availability of help for citizens should take priority. A positive point of view towards life is the base for the future of our society.
Ruth Rebert - Germany