Understanding the lives of the elderly and providing them with healthy spaces is becoming a greater priority.
The world’s population pyramid has turned upside down, and there are now more elderly people with a longer life expectancy than ever before. According to a report from the University of La Sabana, there are more people over age 60 in Colombia than children under age 5. This figure has led to the estimation that by 2020, for every two adults, there will be one teenager.
The problem lies with the state of health of this population and the conditions in which they live. This same report states that 9.3% of senior citizens that live in Colombia’s largest cities, live by themselves. The majority do not live in nursing homes for the elderly or live with a care provider, which can put them in situations where they are physically and mentally unstable.
The second most common condition among the elderly is depression. Some of the causes of this is loneliness, economic inequality, exclusion from different social realms or feeling like they are a burden on their families and on society.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one of every six senior citizens suffers from some type of abuse. A recent study published in The Lancet Global Health Journal including 52 studies, taken from 28 countries, concluded that about 16% of people over age 60 have been victims of psychological abuse (11.6%), financial abuse (6.8%), neglect (4.2%), physical abuse (2.6%) or sexual assault (0.9%).
This is why it is important to be more aware of the situations the elderly live in and try to offer them the company and support that they need. Having good communication with them is key to understanding how they feel, as depression is often a silent condition. Involving them in decision-making, chores around the house and helping them stay physically active and working (if possible) can be very helpful to help promoting a healthy mind.