Although the problem looks well-known and explored in European level, it states much more issues than what is visible at the first glance. Elderly people need different approach to be involved into learning, specific learning paths and encouraging support, and on the other point – the training institutions need additional support to switch to elderly audience. More over, the new LLP actions offer new possibilities for learning in later life, incl. mobilities and volunteering, but they need to be made popular and operational among the stakeholders.
A lot of European projects and networks are discussing the ideas of senior education and offering tools and approaches.
What E-N.L.L. network will offer in addition?
- E-N.L.L. is a neither an academic network nor a network of policy makers; E-N.L.L. network works on provision level, looking directly into practices;
- E-N.L.L. network will combine experienced partners with partners that are new in the field, but would like to learn;
- E-N.L.L. network will combine institutions with various economic domains (incl.- building, agriculture, ecology…) who are interested to explore various possibilities that could be offered to seniors in each of these domains;
- E-N.L.L. network will directly promote cooperation for further exploring the possibilities for learning in later life, offered by the LLP actions.
The delivered products (collections of case studies and practices, guidelines, cooperation models, events) will directly contribute for achieving the aim of the network.
The network activities will impact both the senior citizens in the partnering countries, who will learn more about the new opportunities, and the stakeholders on provisional level that will be offered new collaboration models.
Analysis of the situation in Greece for the senior citizens
National programme for the year for combating poverty and social exclusion “Year 2010”
The Year 2010 has been designated as the “European Year for combating poverty and social exclusion”, by Decision of the European Parliament and the EU Council1. The objectives of the Year 2010 are the following: “Recognition of rights”, “Shared responsibility and participation”, “Cohesion” and “Commitment and concrete action”.
The actions designed to meet the objectives may include:
- organising meetings and events
- launching information, promotional and education campaigns and
- conducting surveys and studies.
The objectives of the Year 2010 will also constitute the 4 objectives of the National Programme of Greece. The Ministry of Employment and Social Protection is the National Implementing Body, having the responsibility to run the Year 2010, as well as to manage the funding of the Year 2010.
Discrimination and Social Inclusion
The age and not the ability often determines how others behave toward us. Though this can be true for all ages, negative stereotypes become barriers to many activities particularly for those over 50 years of age, limiting their access to goods, services and employment. Negative stereotypes suggest that people over 50 years of age have a lesser right to parity in work, education, training, effective medical treatment, recreation and even the enjoyment of life. Many of these stereotypes, the essence of age discrimination, are often unfortunately internalized by people over 50 and as a consequence, they sometimes exclude themselves from many options and activities. One example is training – even when offered training opportunities that would help them in their occupation, older people may refuse because “they are now too old to learn”. Greek legislation is in force that forbids the exclusion of persons over 50 from employment and training but very few employers, employees or trades unionists know the content of this legislation and the rights it offers them.
People are not just characterized by their age, but are also differentiated by their gender, disability, religious beliefs, ethnic or racial characteristic, migrant status or sexual orientation; these in combination may create barriers and exclusion in employment. This constitutes multiple discrimination, insufficiently studied and not confronted by the Greek institutions dealing with discrimination.
Missions for a better life for Citizens 50plus
To promote the interests and defend the rights of people over 50 at national and EU levels through research and advocacy work which gives older people a voice in:
- informing and influencing government policy towards older people
- arguing for a more equitable society for the benefit of those aged over 50, particularly the vulnerable and poor in Greek society
- improving the health and well being of older people
- increasing the active involvement in society of older people
- promoting a society for all ages
How we achieve our Mission
- The provision of news and information of direct interest to those over 50.
- Achieved through the web site (www.50plus.gr)
- Newsletters and Press Release
- research and publications affecting public policy of relevance to those aged over 50
- organization of public events and seminars
- Advocacy for Equal treatment for all regardless of age Achieved
- by promoting knowledge about the current employment law and its implementation
- by combating widespread negative stereotypes and promote the positive abilities and knowledge of older people
- by promoting the right of older people to employment and training
- by supporting the fight for adequate pensions and a share in the increasing wealth of Greece
- by supporting wider social participation
- by insisting on the need for life long education and the opportunity and support for learning new technologies (ICT)
- by ensuring that older people are not discriminated against in the provision of goods and services
- Better health and quality of life for those over 50 achieved through
- promoting healthy ageing activities
- arguing for the development and implementation of better access and quality in health and social services
- supporting the right of older people to autonomy and independent living ensuring that the interests and needs of dependent older people and their family carers are heard
- The provision of news and information of direct interest to those over 50.
Members and supporters are asked to take an active role in informing 50+Hellas of matters of interest and relevance
Positions of 50plus in Greece
Everyone at some point in their lives needs care, whether as a child, as someone with health and mobility problems or as a dependent older person. As far as possible we need to take responsibility for staying as healthy in mind and body as we can so that we do not become a burden on others. Physical and mental activities as well as social participation are the key factors in staying well and active.
While families tend to provide much of the care for their older dependent kin there are difficulties for those who are not of Greek origin and do not speak Greek in accessing the few public services available. Outlined here are some ways of helping older people to remain active and self caring as long as they can, but also information for family carers on some of the sources of help and advice.
Using free time creatively contributes to personal well being and happiness and this includes those over 50years. There are lots of ways of entertaining yourself wherever you live in Greece. There are opportunities for catching up with new technologies and joining the world of the internet. Learning opportunities exist through both private and public organizations and local authorities for those wanting to increase their knowledge in the fields of the arts, culture, social studies, foreign languages etc. Sport and exercise opportunities are available to everyone, while walking and hiking societies exist all over Greece. The urban areas have plenty of theatres, concert halls, galleries, cinemas and talks, some of which can be free or offer reduced prices at certain times. Travel is another pleasure for those with time and there are opportunities for reductions for older people. Volunteering is another excellent way to meet others while offering valuable services.
There are sources of information we all have access to e.g. English web sites, radio, Newspapers and magazines from Greece, but if you know of any activities or opportunities that are likely to appeal in particular to older people then please let us know.
Throughout the EU older workers (over 45 years of age) receive less training and retraining than younger people, and this is very evident in Greece. Technical changes and the introduction of ICT into virtually every aspect of modern life makes this kind of exclusion very worrying. Older people not only received the least education during their early lives but are rarely helped to catch up – Greece will have another generation of older people of “illiterates” in a society that will require ICT knowledge for people to have access to goods and services. Opportunities exist for training whether you are an employer or employee. If you are self-employed you apply to the relevant Chamber or Association where you are registered and OAED has started some training opportunities for the self employed too. To ensure that you stay up to date with your knowledge of ICT there are a number of public and private organizations offering lessons and qualifications, some of them in English. Some Local Authorities also offer lessons for older people, but only in Greek.
Social Insurance and Pensions
Useful information is available from a wide variety of sources. If you paid or pay into IKA or any of the other Greek social insurance funds you can find links to their pages here which provide quite a lot of information on the systems of social insurance, pensions and health insurance. Those from other countries can contact the social insurance body in their country of origin. The subject is vast and complex. Any advice and lessons of general use to readers from others with experience will be very welcome.
We are living longer and longer!Life expectancy at birth for Greek men is now 79 years and for Greek women 83. It is not enough, however, simply to live for more years, as we grow older we all wish to stay active and vigorous, participating fully in family and social life and remaining productive members of our communities. Thanks to the extensive gerontological research of the past 50 years, we now know what we can do to improve our health and quality of life as we grow older, through measures to promote health and prevent diseases and accidents and by maintaining and improving our physical and mental abilities, as well as our participation in social life.
What should we do? According to the World Health Organisation, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO 1948).
Therefore, to improve out health overall, we need to change many of our bad lifestyle habits such as by:
- stopping smoking whatever our age
- gradually increasing our everyday activity and exercise
- consuming a healthy and balanced diet and losing weight in order to improve our physical health status and
- remaining mentally active and learning new skills
- maintaining our personal relationships and contacts and making new friends for better mental and social well-being.
Many older people experience real difficulties in finding work or even keeping their job once they get to the age of 50. In addition few have had equal access to training and career development, a vital issue with the extensive technological changes occurring and the consequent restructuring of the labour force. Each person is affected differently by these changes and there are no easy changes. Keeping up to date, being flexible and retraining are part of the answer. Elsewhere we deal with the procedures to follow if you feel you have been discriminated against on the basis of age.
While government, employers and trades unionists until recently supported early retirement to deal with the substantial technical changes occurring making many jobs redundant or needing new skills, that option is no longer a preferred one as governments recognise the impending shortages of skilled manpower in some sectors of their economy, the waste of human resources and the high cost to the pension system. In Greece the labour market is really difficult for older people given the overall quite high rates of unemployment and underemployment – often hidden in the very high rates of self employment. We have to get all the social partners to recognise that older workers need opportunities for training and career development, something which is relatively rare. Providing decent working conditions, recognising the value of older workers, developing more flexible work contracts to attract older workers, are some ways of keeping older people actively involved.
The National Manpower and Employment Organization (ΟΑΕΔ) in your neighbourhood is the body with which you register if you are unemployed. Job advertisements are also displayed there. However nearly all jobs are advertised in Greek. There is a form to fill in and a member of staff may be able to help you. In any case you may get some advice and suggestions from there e.g. courses available. Their web site is only in Greek –see ΟΑΕΔ.
Travel and accessibility
Tourism and travel both in Greece and abroad is often a pleasure and interest for many older people no longer restricted by work obligations. In Greece it is also a major revenue earner and older people constitute an ever expanding section of the tourist market. Yet the lack of good standards and the lack of harmonization in terms of accessibility to tourist and transport facilities have a huge impact on the take up rate of these facilities by older people.
There have been definite improvements in terms of accessibility in Greece e.g. public transport, roads, tourist facilities and buildings, stimulated by the Olympics of 2004 and the hard work of those concerned with the disabled, BUT there remain enormous problems and a lack of sensitivity to the needs of all the less mobile population and particularly older people.
Such problems can act to exclude older people not only from tourism but even from active participation in their communities. Pavements remain appalling in most urban areas of Greece – uneven, potholed and with trees inappropriately planted – while even where they are supposedly accessible to the hard- of- sight, the less mobile or wheelchair users, there is often the problem of badly parked cars and motorcycles blocking their use. There need to be smooth surfaced and unblocked paths which will help wheel chair users, parents with prams and older people to walk safely.
All public transport and tourist need to be encouraged to meet accessibility criteria based on the concept of Design for All. For actions against the inappropriate use of pavements we support another NGO called www.pezh.gr who argue for a change in the mentality of drivers, politicians and police Α bunch of friends who believed that we waited long enough for the state, the local authorities and the police to wake up, they took the action on their hands. More information: http://www.streetpanthers.gr/