Active aging offers new lifestyle for seniors

EVRIN GÜVENDIK
ISTANBUL
Published 20.04.2016 23:42
Updated 20.04.2016 23:45

Elderly people, those over 65, are often viewed as a liability in Turkey, as the rapidly aging population is often confined to home or care centers. The government wants to change this state of affairs with a new policy aimed at senior citizens. The Family and Social Policies Ministry's Active Ageing Strategy Document addresses the problem.

Active ageing, described by the World Health Organization as the process of "optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security to enhance quality of life as people age" seeks to help the elderly realize their potential socially and economically.

The ministry is now consulting other ministries, universities and nongovernmental organizations to draft a strategy to assist aging citizens for increased employment and social inclusion.

People 65 and above constitute 8.2 percent of the population according to official 2015 figures, corresponding to more than 6.4 million people in a country with a population of 78 million, which is a concern for the future. Parliament last week approved the allocation of monthly salaries for needy senior citizens to keep them out of poverty, as the elderly rarely have access to employment either due to reluctant employers or age-related illness.

A strategy paper drafted to address the active participation of seniors in the workforce, independent living and social inclusion adopts international standards for care of the elderly. Coşkun Gürboğa, a senior ministry official addressing a parliamentary committee on the family, said they were also discussing various proposals such as new care insurance for the elderly, more care centers and special training for caregivers for senior citizens. In March, the ministry introduced a Senior Citizen Support Program, a package of incentives to improve care for the elderly. The program "seeks to benefit from the experience of senior citizens," said Minister Sema Ramazanoğlu. Ramazanoğlu said projects supporting the productivity of senior citizens would be endorsed by her ministry. Projects specially designed for the elderly will be granted as much as TL 1.1 million ($383,743) per project if the ministry approves, and they will be limited to projects prepared by local municipalities, as the government seeks to decentralize services for the care of seniors.

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