For more than a decade, our governments have tried to make us think we could mortgage our future. The financial crisis which started in the United States due to the incompetence of financial institutions and the extreme sophistication of financial products has contaminated the whole banking system, causing huge losses and forcing countries to carry out massive interventions.
These interventions have led to adverse consequences. Austerity plans adopted by all European countries will not only be socially painful but also economically risky, as the need for embarking in austerity measures is unprecedented.
We must act now for the implementation of measures which allow our senior citizens to live with dignity.
CRISIS AND THE ELDERLY
All around Europe, the purchasing power of the elderly is drastically reduced and minimum retirement pensions are below the poverty line. With regards to minimum social benefits, apart from monetary ones, access to services is problematic (domiciliary care, assistance, transport, mobility aid, housing...).
Taking into account government-imposed restrictions, health care is one of the most affected sectors. The financial crisis swept away the most important projects. The promised Dependency Law reform seems to have been left aside, despite urgent need. Disability is another issue affecting a large part of the elderly, as its impact increases with age and it makes the affected persons depend on other people to carry out daily tasks.
Population ageing has caused an explosion of age-related diseases. A series of measures related to certain medicines that were made non refundable and to the increase of hospital compulsory bills have appeared immediately. We have the impression that we are before a two -speed Health Care system.
The impact of the financial crisis among the elderly is obvious; the issues related to social protection show that the search for happiness has been replaced by the search for austerity. The action of the members of our organization along with AGE platform in Brussels and national organizations must give results regarding the following issues:
· International Convention for the rights of older people
Rights of older people must be defined taking into account ageing and not age limits.
· Intergenerational Solidarity
Crisis affects youth in the same way it affects the elderly, what may lead to tension between generations. For this reason, it is important to encourage, once more, intergenerational solidarity.
· Establishment of a new Intergenerational Agreement
Nowadays the ageing process of current developed societies poses an important challenge for Health Care systems and causes a relevant social concern about public finance.
The ageing of the European population calls for a reinforced solidarity between different generations. In consequence, it is urgent to implement the necessary economic and social measures to integrate the success that constitutes life extension.