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Volunteer Work and the Social Exclusion of the Elderly Tanja Laatikainen 11 May 2009
ASPA Housing Services Foundation The ASPA Housing Services Foundation, a Finnish organisation of national scope, was founded by 13 disability organisations in 1995. As a non-profit organization, the ASPA Housing Services Foundation promotes the ability of people with disabilities and recovering mental health patients to live independent and autonomous lives. Among other things, the Foundation builds and repairs housing, develops housing services, and provides information. © ASPA 2009 2
What is social exclusion of the elderly? Social exclusion is a complex process which affects the wellbeing both of the individual and society. Key to it is the lack of opportunities for the elderly to participate in society. (Levitas et al, 2007) Exclusion occurs when an elderly person cannot live a full and balanced life, does not have enough meaningful things to do, and lacks social relationships. © ASPA 2009 3
What factors can contribute to the social exclusion of the elderly? Illnesses which cause dementia or other health problems can make independent life more difficult and thereby contribute to social exclusion. Lack of security, depression, loneliness, and excessive use of alcohol are directly linked to social exclusion. Exhaustion of a family carer can cause the social exclusion of both the person requiring care and the carer. Pressure and maltreatment by family members do not support the independent life of an older person as part their community. © ASPA 2009 4
Contributing factors continued Lack of amenities in the home, and long distances can limit an older person’s ability to function, and in turn cause exclusion from the community. Refusal of home services, deficiencies in nutrition and medical care may limit the ability of an older person to live an independent life, and thereby cause social exclusion. © ASPA 2009 5
What prevents social exclusion of the elderly? Family and friends can play a significant role. The public services system provides access to other options, such as day-care activities. Other organizations and parishes provide some activities, but this is fragmented. Crucial to preventing social exclusion is increased participation in activities by older people, as is support for such participation. Activities must commence at a sufficiently early stage. © ASPA 2009 6
Volunteer work engaging the elderly Volunteer work is a good way to increase active participation by the elderly. Volunteer work among the elderly is increasing. Old people need to take an active part, not be treated as an object! It is important to discuss how the different responsibilities of professional and volunteer work can interact. Volunteer work should add to the public services system, not replace it. © ASPA 2009 7
Literature Laatikainen, T.: Vanhustenhuollon ammattilaisten kokemuksia vanhusten kotona asumisen vaikeutumisesta ja tukemisesta 16 kunnassa. Helsinki: Kansaneläkelaitos, Sosiaali- ja terveysturvan selosteita 66/2009. Levitas, R., et al: ‘The Multi-dimensional analysis of social exclusion’. Department of Sociology and School for Social Policy, University of Bristol, 2007. Mykkänen-Hänninen, R.: Vapaaehtoistyön rajapinnoilla. Helsinki:Helsingin ammattikorkeakoulu Stadia, sarja B: oppimateriaalit 6, Helsinki, 2004. Nylund, M., Yeung. B.A.: Vapaaehtoistoiminta. Anti, arvot ja osallisuus. Tampere: Vastapaino, 2005. © ASPA 2009 8
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