Reus proposes creating shared homes among the elderly
The City Council, through the Plan d'Envelliment Actiu y Saludable de Reus (2022-2026), will study, among other 75 actions, the possibility of creating shared homes between older people. The purpose of the initiative, which includes SeniorLab as a collaborating entity, seeks to prevent the isolation of older people, reduce their housing costs, strengthen social relations between those who share a flat and promote what is also called 'active aging'. The action that is projected in the municipal document consists of promoting an exploratory study, mainly, on the option of creating a home of this type.
On the idea, there are supporters and detractors. There are entities that find that it can be "a solution for people who have been widowed and can live accompanied by other people with whom they get along well" and others who think that "if the person has relatives, they will want to maintain their independence."
The coordinator in the province of Tarragona of Amics de la Gent Gran, Magda Civit, values positively that there is a plan in which active aging policies are articulated in the capital of Baix Camp. From the entity that Civit represents, they fight against unwanted loneliness and social isolation of the elderly. For this reason, she finds that the initiative of sharing a flat between the elderly (a term known in English as cohousing) could be “very beneficial”. “We know of many cases of elderly people who are left alone when they are widowed and that it be studied so that, in a hypothetical future, it could be regulated, it would be interesting”, adds the head of the Amics de la Gent Gran in the territory. She knows examples of people who, when they meet another with whom they get along, have tried to live together. A boat soon, she «she supposes an idea that would enhance the autonomy of many older people, as long as they fend for themselves and a good selection of people has been made with whom to live».
The president of the neighborhood association (AV) of the La Pastoreta neighborhood, Puri Flores, adds that "this sharing a flat seems very good to us, people do not want to be in an asylum, but to be accompanied." She also specifies, regarding the municipal plan, that "it will really be good for citizens if coordination between departments is promoted, if it effectively watches over the well-being of older people." Flores recalls that the associations do "what they can to be aware of the elderly, there are very trusting and very distrustful."
For his part, the neighborhood president of the Monestir neighborhood and representative of the Associació de la Gent Gran, Alfonso Berbel, is reluctant with shared homes for the elderly: «The elderly are very much theirs, convincing people who have lived alone for a long time it's very complicated".
Another of the actions proposed by the Plan d'Envelliment Actiu i Saludable is to provide technical support to neighborhood communities that need financing to make their buildings accessible, either by removing architectural barriers or installing elevators. About this action, Berbel says that "the vast majority of communities have already taken the step with this matter." "Unless they are very old, there are many that have already performed." On making buildings more accessible, Civit explains that, "with an increasingly aging population, we should work more to ensure a more comfortable life." "We will all grow old and more education must be done to citizens on this subject," Civit points out.
Initiatives such as the program of activities for the elderly 'Grantivisme' promote healthy aging and Civit expresses that "I have noticed that people have become much more animated as a result of activities like these being promoted." The coordinator of the Amics de la Gent Gran, maintains that "more and more people are opting for early retirement and at 60 they are still too young to do many things." "We encourage older people to be encouraged to volunteer, which is something that keeps you very active," acknowledges the entity's representative. Regarding volunteering, the plan includes an action that promotes awareness workshops on the importance of volunteering. “In our AV in the Monestir neighborhood, we have teachers who, for very little, come to do activities, the older neighbors thank you for that,” says Berbel.
One of the needs that becomes evident through the formulation of actions in the municipal document is the connection by bus of peripheral neighborhoods. The City Council is determined to study, in this case, the frequency and existing stops to detect possible points in which to intervene or improve. Civit points out on this subject that, "with the elderly, you have to have much more empathy than you have." "On buses, you have to be aware of them, because they are more vulnerable and can fall." Berbel agrees with Civit: "There is little sensitivity with older people."