Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions

PUBLICATIONS

Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 7



IF the 20th century was the one of great demographic growth, the 21st century should be the one of the great ageing'. This has been said in a recent CNR's interview (Consiglio Nazionale della Ricerca).

 

During the last decades both the public opinion and politicians have paid attention to the vast social and economical transformations, to the important political events and the bloody struggles accompanying them. These transformations have been fast and deep and they have modified and, in some way disturbed, the whole structure of society. Nevertheless, only few years ago they were not paying much attention to the parallel demographic transformation - contemporary to the social and economical one – which also modified, although in a more silent way, the population and the society.

 

                          

 

 

According to the CNR's interview ageing constitutes, at least by now, a problem of developed countries. In fact, if this is not a relevant problem in the developing countries, it is growing more and more. The ageing of the population will be fully reached in two or three generations, that is, in a very short term from a demographic, social and cultural point of view. The speed of ageing is then the first and biggest difficulty that society must face. The second one is the intensity of the phenomenon. The third one is the rate of the ageing process, with which the western societies will be coexisting for a long time. Another obstacle is the fact that ageing is completely new in history and therefore, there are not any preceding on which we could lean.

 

A lot of research has been done on the conditions of the elderly, but even if it is true that much attention has been paid to the so called risk factors and to the organization of services for the most problematic situations, it is also true that there is a lack of interest in the active dimension of the elderly, in their social and cultural leading role and in the opportunities of their social rehabilitation. That is why it is necessary to globally approach the elderly, keeping in mind not only the welfare aspect but also to highlight their right to a satisfactory life both social and cultural, so that they can live to the full, improve and develop their own identity, where they find the sense of their existence. So, if we do not want to build a discriminatory and therefore calamitous future for our elders, we need to have the courage to develop towns and services according to their wishes. Personal prevention must be added. Research shows that ageing is premature in the lower social classes. To keep one's mind awake and active, to develop one's own curiosity and to take part in social life are helpful while ageing. The subject of training and education during life is linked to all these and fundamental to the AGE platform.

 

In fact, an important quantity of the elderly are completely inactive and lots of them live in poverty. Nevertheless there is a high number of self-sufficient elder. Despite small physical problems, they are strong, they exercise, they take care both of their look and their health and, thanks to their economic possibilities, they travel together to far-off and exotic places. This is the prototype of a person ageing with success, whose aspirations are the same as those of the young and the adult. The other side of the coin is that of ill elderly, being pathologic ageing of the brain one of the most relevant problems. In fact, a quarter of them live in expensive residential homes, but they often offer precarious nursing, in spite of the great social, economic and care burden that patients represent to their families and to the society.

 

 

In the most developed countries it has been noticed that the most represented figure is the one of the 'new elder', that is, the one avid for activity and experiences. There are specialized magazines devoted to them, which include various subjects of interest, that go from sports to travel, programs to study new careers, Olympic games for the elderly, etc. Another  important subject, besides economic, social and cultural reasons, is the realization of their political power. The electoral representation is a reality we cannot leave aside. Important people have stated that: 'The needs and demands of the elderly will more and more dominate the political agenda in the future'. The full realization of their own political power, of their capability in important economic and productive sectors, would allow a 'lobby' formed by 'elders' and 'new elderly' with a growing number of problems in common, to be the main figure and direct negotiator, at different levels, of a society and its institutions (above all the political ones) that has only paid attention to them when elections were approaching.

 

Our society just starts realizing the general ageing phenomenon, but is not yet culturally prepared to intervene. The collaboration and efforts of every member is necessary in order to think of the elderly as an active component of the world. As professor Norberto Bobbio says: ' Ageing starts in youth. It is, in short, something that must be built with intelligence and passion'.

 

Franco Salza

President of the Association of Pensioners from Savings Banks from Torino

National Syndical Federation of Credit Pensioners