Santiago (Agenzia Fides) - During the Covid-19 pandemic, the elderly population suffered more than other groups, because they lacked the resources necessary to support them. In Chile, there have been many cases of isolation, abandonment, physical inactivity and, therefore, adverse effects on the mental capacities of the elderly. Although the country has ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Human Rights of Older Persons, no planning of services or activities was possible during the health emergency, which sometimes had serious consequences.
Given the situation of vulnerability in which thousands of elderly people live in the country, the Elderly Program of Caritas Chile strives to strengthen the work of contact persons and diocesan teams of elderly people, from an integral perspective, which includes caring for older people and their environment, through attention to their rights, participation and organization of older people, and networking, from local to national level. This Caritas Chile project is possible thanks to the contribution of the German Foundation for the Elderly in the World, chaired by Christel Wasiek, whose director and members of the organization met with the Caritas Chile team to develop details of this new initiative.
According to the note sent to Fides, the project "Strengthening networks of assistance to the elderly in Chile" will be launched on the occasion of the national meeting of diocesan representatives and teams, which will be held from March 20 to 22 in Santiago, with the participation of 40 diocesan representatives, from Arica to Punta Arenas. The director of the German foundation comments: "The population of elderly people is increasing, in particular the group of over 80s, and they are the ones who need the most care, so it is crucial to raise their awareness of this situation. It is very important that during these national days, the teams address this issue by considering the multiple forms of assistance, covering physical and mental health, economy and good treatment, all aspects that constitute comprehensive support for the elderly".
"As a Foundation – underlines Christel Wasiek - we adapt to the demand of the different initiatives that arise in different countries. Experience has shown us that poverty is the most serious problem facing the elderly. That is why we try to improve their living conditions by providing them with tools that allow them to be self-sufficient. In the case of Chile, we believe that it is necessary to promote intergenerational relations, but in an effective way, where both parties benefit from a real relationship, from an exchange of experiences". In her book "Option for old age", Christel Wasiek wants to show that the elderly continue to contribute to society, to save memory and to value the great social gerontological history that exists in Latin America.
According to the latest available data collected by Fides, Chile has 3,449,362 elderly people (60 years and over), or 18% of the population. Life expectancy at birth increased by more than three years between the five-year periods 2000-2005 and 2020-2025, rising from 77 years to 80.7 years. The population group that has increased the most over these 20 years is that of people aged 80 and over. According to the 2019 demographic projections of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in 2050 the elderly population of Chile will represent 32% of the total (6,430,169 people). (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 15/3/2023)
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