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Why do we need separate emergency relief for older people?

  • 26 million older people a year are affected by natural disasters.
  • People in later life are particularly vulnerable in these situations and at greater risk of contracting diseases; older people are vulnerable to rapid debilitation caused by diarrhoea in the same way as children are, for example. 
  • But, unlike other vulnerable groups, their needs are often ignored.
  • Older people can get pushed to the ground in the scramble for aid packages. 
  • Where they receive food, it is frequently unsuitable for digestive systems and teeth compromised by the ageing process.  
  • Lack of mobility and isolation mean they are often unable to access emergency relief; they may be far from the centralised distribution points or too frail to reach refugee camps.
  • In emergencies there is often a lack of medication for chronic disorders, especially disorders that will become acute without regular treatment. 

Why focus on rights? Isn’t it better to give people food and shelter?

Working on rights means keeping older people safe and protected from harm and ensuring they are treated fairly and with dignity. It also means making sure they can live the life they choose (such as having access to education), and play a part in their community and in wider society.

Human rights are also an important tool to help people demand access to goods and services such as food and shelter. They provide a legal basis for challenging the policies of many governments.

Why do we need separate health programmes for people in later life?

There are three main reasons for focusing on the health of older people in particular. 

  1. Many older people suffer from age discrimination and are often denied access to healthcare solely on the basis of their age, not their health.
  2. Ageing is a driver of specific illnesses and one’s experience of health and illness changes as one gets older. It is therefore essential that older people receive appropriate prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care.
  3. Data collection and specialist skills for understanding the health of older people are almost non-existent in some parts of the world.

What are non-communicable diseases/chronic illnesses?

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) include a range of chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and dementia. 

They are commonly thought of as "diseases of affluence", but in reality, four-fifths of deaths from NCDs are in low- and middle-income countries and older people in developing countries are particularly at risk.

What is a social pension?

A social pension is a regular cash transfer provided by the state to every older person. In contrast, contributory pensions are only available to the relatively small numbers who had had jobs in the formal economy.

Evidence shows that giving older people a minimum income helps them, their families and their communities.

Our supporter engagement team will be happy to help you. Please do not hesitate to call us on 0800 032 0699

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Last updated: Aug 16 2018

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