The first of October is International Day of Older Persons, as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly. According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, in 2019 one out of every five members of the population was older than 65, and the number of older persons is higher than the number of children.
These figures are alarming, and we have to look for ways to address this as a society. Luckily, in Slovenia the stereotypical thinking that people over 65 are less capable and less useful to society than the younger generation is gradually changing.
Lifelong learning programmes for older people are available in Slovenia, and awareness is increasing among the general public that intergenerational cooperation presents a great opportunity for both generations.
Therefore, we should learn to use the expression third age, and instead of older people, people in their later years. We Slovenes are a nation of athletes, and our running events often feature contestants over 65. And the same is true in other sports. This generation is also well-represented at educational courses, with computer courses and foreign language courses being the most popular.
In particular, it also includes interesting people who are important to our nation’s sciences and culture.
- Boris Pahor, 107, is one of Slovenia’s most eminent living writers, and is also one of Slovenia’s most translated authors. His most translated work is Necropolis, a novel about the writer’s experience at the Natzweiler-Struthof camp. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
- Inventor Peter Florjančič is 101 years old, but he still hasn’t run out of new ideas. Photo: Gregor Mlakar/STA
- Ballet dancer, director, writter and professor of the art of ballet Dr Henrik Neubauer. Photo: Personal archives
Statistics also indicate that among the Slovenian population, an increasing proportion of people over 65 have post-secondary or university-level education. Slovenes also have generally long life expectancy, and our quality of life is high.
Even during Covid-19, Slovenia has not forgotten its seniors
We are living in a new reality, in which we are facing a huge health crisis, during which those in their third age are especially threatened materially, psychologically and in terms of their physical health.
Caring for our parents and grandparents is one of the priorities of this government and of Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs Janez Cigler Kralj. The ministry, therefore, undertook to provide as quickly as possible a larger number of places in care homes, where older persons could receive adequate care during the health crisis.
In its anti-corona measure 4, the government allocated EUR 29 million for resolving staffing issues. This means that increased staffing and improved standards at these homes will not fall on the shoulders of the residents or their relatives. The decisions on the allocation of funds were issued to all providers.
On the basis of the aforementioned decree, funding was provided for approximately 620 additional staff members for all providers of institutional care in the public network, of which more than 550 will be new jobs at care homes for the elderly.
The formal employment procedures are already being carried out, and a new draft long-term care act is being drafted.
During this second wave of Covid-19 infections, as in the first wave, the ministry has remained in constant contact with the directors of care homes and with the Association of Social Welfare Institutions.
The ministry offers all necessary assistance to the healthcare professionals within the scope of its powers and they are also assisted by the medical profession. They are closely monitoring developments at the care facilities, and during the summer they did everything necessary in order to prepare ourselves for the autumn wave of infections.
The draft of the fifth anti-corona act also includes several measures designed to contain the spread of Covid-19.
- In Slovenia, we are aware of the need to respect older people, appreciate their life experiences and learn from them. Photo: Oliver Rossi - GettyImages/GulliverFilm&Foto
- Having a living grandparent is a great privilege. They are the ones who pass on the abundance of life wisdom to the younger generation. Photo: Morsa Images - GettyImages/GulliverFilm&Foto
Temporary reassignment of employees has already been introduced at care homes for the elderly and other providers of social and healthcare services.
A bonus is being introduced for working directly with clients at social services providers in grey and red zones, amounting to 30% of the individual employee’s hourly wage.
In order to ensure the financial sustainability of old people’s homes, measures are being introduced to finance protective equipment to contain the spread of Covid-19, and to cover the costs of loss of revenue due to unutilised capacities.
Let’s respect each other
Let’s get past the stereotypes about old people and the fear that someone will be a nuisance to us. Let us be respectful towards each other.
In these times of a new reality, when a health crisis is affecting us all, solidarity is all the more important.
Take the time to explain to your mum or grandfather how to send an email, go for a walk or have coffee with them, and do not look away when we drive past an old people’s home. In addition to the professional experience that we are gaining as younger people, we can also learn something from their experiences. And let us be grateful to them. For being here for us and with us. Since we are who we are thanks to them.
Date: 1. October 2020
Time to read: 2 min