The European Federation of Older Persons – EURAG – created in 1962, is the oldest European civil society organisation of and for older persons, with membership in 30 European countries. It is a non-profit association, independent of any political parties, with the purpose to promote the recognition, the quality of life and the participation of older persons in society at all social, economic and political levels.
In its last 3 videoconference meetings – EURAG members from 18-24 countries have shared with each other their experiences during the Corona pandemic, and what they have learned from it. Among others, they have highlighted the following issues:
- The need to call on politicians to set up, at European level, directives on the subject of coordinated public health measures (addressing physical and mental well-being) and to mobilize the financial means necessary to implement up to date solutions in the area of health and care services, in particular for persons in need of care, support and assistance. It is obvious that individual European countries cannot solve these health problems on their own!
- Put a stop to considering and treating older persons as a homogeneous category of people over the age of 50. They are as diverse and have very different needs and capacities as any other population group. Consequently, policies addressing the situation of older persons must seriously take their specificities into consideration.
- Put a stop to the confusion between social distancing and physical distancing. While physical distancing is a measure to prevent the spreading of virus infections, social distancing necessarily leads to isolation, marginalisation and, at the worst, to disruption of social cohesion.
- Any economic stimulus emerging from lockdown must include resources and measures to develop conditions to encourage and enable older persons to play their just role in formal paid work as well as in the informal economy by contributing to the quality of society through volunteering, as carers in the families and by rendering services to those in need. They cannot do this if they are required to be physically and socially distanced.
- Young and older people have been distanced and even separated during the pandemic to such an extent that a significantly wider generational gap has occurred, instead of honouring and promoting mutual solidarity, trust and social cohesion as an prerequisite of a just and fair society.
We insistently ask the media to live up to their responsibility to convey a respectful, correct, differentiated and non-discriminatory image of older persons as active and indispensable actors in societal life, who are ready and able to show solidarity with the younger generation, in order to prevent ageism in any form.
I strongly recommend to all readers of our website to open the links below and listen to the opinions of our zoom conference participants. You will surely understand and appreciate that they express their personal opinions based on their own experience in their respective countries.
Dirk Jarré – President of EURAG / email@example.com