NEWS

Nursing homes fill up in August

The number of residents in old people’s homes increases by a third in August, when many families go on vacation and leave their elderly relatives behind, new statistics show. Of some 100 or more legal homes for the elderly in Greece, most see an increase of around 30 percent in residency rates in August due to «last-minute arrivals,» according to data released by the union representing these hostels. «They usually stay for about a month and then the families come to collect them,» said Nikitas Kalfopoulos, the union’s general secretary, explaining that the majority of the elderly residents are not physically able to accompany their relatives on holiday. According to Kalfopoulos, most residents do not object to being left behind and even enjoy their monthly stay at the homes for the elderly. «Many of them like it, as it provides them with an opportunity to socialize,» he said. Also the level of services is reportedly high, so the elderly are well cared for. «Our hostels are like hotels with increased levels of care,» Kalfopoulos said. But in some cases, the families never return to collect their elderly relatives. «Sometimes they leave them with us without telling us anything, without ever visiting again,» he said. Leaving relatives at these homes is not a cheap undertaking. A month of care costs some 1,000 euros. This high cost is believed to be the reason that many families prefer to leave their elderly relatives at a state hospital. In many cases, relatives cite a particular health problem as afflicting their elderly relative so that they can abdicate responsibility to doctors. In a related development, municipal authorities in Argostoli on the Ionian island of Cephalonia have clashed with a local monastery after resident nuns refused to accommodate some 80 pensioners in their monastery while work gets under way to renovate the nursing home in which they live. A local bishop defended the nuns, saying, «The monastery is a religious place and fulfills another social role.» Local authorities have offered to pay rent for use of the monastery but the nuns have threatened to leave if the pensioners are transferred there.