Italy has the highest percentage of elderly people in Europe and by 2050 it is estimated that one person in two will be aged over 60 and one in six over 80. Average life expectancy is now 75 for men and 81 for women. Consequently loneliness in old age is a problem that affects more Italian women than men.
What, then, can be done to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation in elderly citizens?
Corriere della Sera reports that the city of Milan, where 24% of the population are over 65, may have come up with the answer: fostering of the elderly. The idea is not new but there has been little publicity about it. Only about 30 Milanese citizens over the age of 80 have been officially “adopted” by families but Councillor Mariolina Maioli wants to triple that figure.
The “adoption” scheme is seen as cost-effective and beneficial for both the elderly adoptees and their adopting families, who will be paid 200 euros a month. Families must see their adoptees daily, have lunch with them and include them in their leisure activities. Care of the elderly is still seen primarily as a family obligation in Italy with care homes being regarded as a last resort. Elderly people who live in their own homes tend to live longer and it is cheaper for the Council to subsidise families than to pay for residential care.
A massive advertising campaign about the scheme is to be launched in Milan within the next few weeks.
Would you “adopt” an elderly person?