The Malta Independent 20 October 2019, Sunday

Board set up to work on national strategy to combat solitude among elderly people

Giulia Magri Tuesday, 8 October 2019, 11:45 Last update: about 11 days ago

The Parliamentary Secretary for Persons with Disability and Active Ageing Anthony Agius Decelis today announced the setting up of board to work on a national strategy against solitude amongst elderly persons.

The board is made up of a community of professionals who will study the elderly population to understand the issues, so as to come with solutions to address the problems.

Agius Decelis explained that the board will have a period of six months studying the situation and then come together to understand the situation. “Our studies show that 75 per cent of our elderly are happy and live a good quality of life, but we must focus our attention to the 25 per cent to improve their quality of life and help them.”

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Agius Decelis explained that there are numerous reasons as to what causes solitude among elderly people, and that the board will be looking into how to deal with these conditions so as to address the situation with a clear plan. “The government does not just focus on the numbers, we will be happy when all elderly people are living a good quality of life and we help those who are suffering.”

Agius Decelis said that to combat solitude, everyone must play their role, the Church, NGOs and himself as Parliamentary Secretary for Active Ageing.

He said that one must study the situation in a professional manner, and that the board includes six professionals, experts in their own field who will be analysing the situation and discussing the plan forward. He mentioned that the Government has already addressed a number of services, such as more public transport and a day centre at St Vincent de Paule Home to continue pushing for more inclusion for the elderly, but more work has to be done.

“I wish to study further into the situation as to improve the lives of our elderly, to be taken seriously and to make sure that no one is socially excluded and everyone is integrated in society.”

Mgr Joe Vella Gauci, who is a member of the board, said that solitude is a universal problem and affects all sectors in society, particularly the elderly. “European statistics show that one third to one half of the elderly population suffer from solitude.”

He said that solitude was a result of lack of family and friends, lack of transport, and other individual reasons. He said that solitude can lead to a person being completely isolated from society, and that the consequences are serious, leaving that individual with no identity, stress, depression, risk of suicide and higher risk of chronic disease.  

“It is our collective responsibility to address this together and that we provide meaningful contact amongst one another to tackle solitude.” He called out to all stakeholders to address this issue, for all groups to come together and work collectively to combat the issue of solitude amongst the elderly. “Combating loneliness means preventing exclusion, poverty, loss of autonomy and psychological distress. We need to understand this problem and address it in a collective manner to limit this problem and to provide a good quality of life for society.”

 

 

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