NEWS

Greece behind in care of elderly

Care of the elderly is also changing. «The child-centered nature of Greek society will affect many things in the future. The decrease in the number of children in the long term means a decrease in the members of the family to care for the old person. There are many only children around, and they will be called on to shoulder the burden of care for the old person, which until today was shared among siblings,» Teperoglou pointed out. Putting an old person in an old people’s home continues to be stigmatized in Greek society: Not even 1 percent of old people live in old people’s homes in Greece (as compared to western Europe, where 9-11 percent of old people do). Today, there are 2,800 old people in state or non-profit-making retirement homes. Another 1,206 people are in institutes for the chronically ill, and 1,454 are in psychiatric hospitals. Nevertheless, «if we continue to have one of the lowest percentage of elderly people in retirement homes in Europe, the number of lonely old people will rise. «A striking example in a recent survey of ours was the tale told by one social worker, about an elderly woman who wanted to give her the key to the house, begging her to come every three or four days to see if she had died. «Unfortunately, in most of these cases, the old people have children who simply don’t care.» Some sort of solution has been provided in recent years by untrained foreign women who are hired with growing frequency to take care of aged parents. Problems remain EKKE recently took part in the European interstate survey Procare on the relationship between health care provision and social care of the elderly. (The research team consisted of Aphrodite Teperoglou, Aris Sissouras, Laoura Maratou-Alipranti, Evi Fagadaki, Olga Papaliou and Eftychia Teperoglou.) Its findings on the KAPI and the Help at Home program were presented recently at an international conference in Venice. «We came to the conclusion that there are still problems. The number of elderly people might be increasing, but medical and social help continue to lack cohesion. For the time being, issues of health and care of old people continue to burden their families. In other countries, the state has recognized the problem and is a valuable ally. For example, it sends a nurse every day to bedridden elderly people or a person to look after grandpa on a weekend so the couple can leave the house,» Teperoglou said. Help at Home In Greece, medical and social help are still rudimentary. The «Help at Home» program, according to Health Ministry data, began in 1992 and today numbers 1,063 units throughout the country. Of these, 880 home help units have assisted some 50,000 people, while 183 social care units have assisted 48,650 people. The KAPI were instituted in 1979. According to Interior Ministry statistics, in 2001 there were 521 fully operational KAPI. Most are to be found in the regions of Central Macedonia (192), Attica (85) and Thessaly (61) and the fewest in the Ionian Islands (8), the Peloponnese (8) and the Southern Aegean (6).