The social inclusion of the elderly in community life is one of the indicators of the level of societal development, and at the same time a factor with strong impact on their mental and psychological health. The elderly need to be socially integrated in the environment, especially if they live alone. Living alone leads towards losing the critical context for social integration in the environment. With the changes in the health, cognitive and emotional status of the elderly, their need for social support is increasing.
The Republic of North Macedonia is facing an increased number of older population. With 15% of older population over 60 years of age, according to the last census in 2002, the Republic of North Macedonia exceeds the coefficient of 12% of older population. Statistical data show that in 2008, older population participated with 16,6% in the overall population in the country. The average life expectancy in the Republic of North Macedonia, according to UN will continuously increase in future and it is expected to reach 79,5 years in 2050, i.e. 33% of older population on the overall territory.
Hence, the needs for social protection and health care of older people are increasing, and there is a need for developing forms of non-institutional protection, which will enable services close to the beneficiaries for which they are intended.
The social inclusion is very complex process and includes not only access to information, but also ageing with dignity, which implies financial security in old age, opportunities for equal access to social services and health care, compliance of the labour market to the current demographic trends and specifics of the older persons, equal protection from all types of discrimination, abuse and violence, and equal opportunities for participation in cultural and public life in the society.
In the recent years we have witnessed implementation of numerous programmes aiming to enhance the social inclusion of the elderly in the active life of a community. These programmes promote socialization and creative and educational work with children in order to transfer experience, knowledge and skills from younger to older persons, as well as to overcome the generational gap by means of mutual socialization. These programmes and projects aim to encourage and promote healthy relation of the community towards the old age, to contribute to higher quality life for people of third age and improve inter-generational relations.
The social programme intended for the elderly is implemented as part of the project “Psycho-social support and counselling, social club and public relations of 100 Roma survivals, victims of the Holocaust in Skopje” funded by the EVZ Stiftung – Erinnerung, Verantwortung, Zukunft.
The aim of the social programme, which is part of the project, is:
- Increasing social integration of the elderly in the society;
- Raising awareness of the need for inter-generational solidarity (family, neighboring and volunteering) and reducing the inter-generational gap;
- Reducing stereotypes and prejudices of older people;
- Encouraging older people to participate in protection and promotion of tradition, customs, and culture on the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia;
- Providing information to the elderly and their families and educating them about the rights and services available for them in the social protection systems;
- Raising awareness for prevention of abuse and violence against the elderly.
It includes educational and informative workshops on various topics and areas of interest to older people, as well as creative workshops, various events, and celebrations, but also visits to museums and objects of scientific character.
The purpose of the social support is to provide unconditional assistance and support to the elderly at social risk and Roma people victims of Holocaust, born before May 9, 1945.
The programme foresees field visits where social worker pays home visits to the elderly with the following activities:
- Identifying specific social protection needs of each beneficiary (by means of interview with the beneficiaries, their families and home visit);
- Developing social anamnesis for each beneficiary;
- Establishing contacts with the family members;
- Providing information to the elderly and their families about their social protection rights and the network of institutions for exercising these rights;
- Home visits to beneficiaries according to the identified needs;
- Record-keeping and documentation of implemented activities;
- Exercises for recreational and psycho-physical development;
- Personal development activities.
With their social inclusion, Sumnal advocates and aims to create sustainable and efficient model for transfer of knowledge and skills, which will connect young and old generations, thus enable understanding and support in order to establish social connections between the members of different age groups. The elderly actively contribute towards preservation of the tangible and intangible culture of Roma people and Macedonian contemporary society by transferring their knowledge, skills, testimonials, and experiences to young generations. This contribution provides and shall continue to provide in future promotion and maintenance of social security of the elderly, prevention of social exclusion and improvement of quality of life, strengthening capacities of the elderly to lead independent, active, and productive life.