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Positions of 50plus Hellas

Social Care

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.

Free Time

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.


Employment

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.   
If you speak Greek you will find the phone numbers and office addresses of   ΟΑΕΔ throughout Greece on the greek site. here

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 has 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/

Training


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.


Discrimination

Our age and not our 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 (See presentation of the legislation).
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.

Health

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.

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