Our mission

65+ Elder Rights Association

An aging world: the elderly in Turkey

We are living longer now than ever before in human history. By 2030, one-half of the world population will be over 65. That has its blessings as well as its costs for all of us, young and old.

  • Who will look after us when we get old?
  • Who will pay for such care?
  • How do we characterize a healthy and dignified old age for all, men and women, rich and poor, the physically and mentally challenged and sound in a rapidly changing and diversified Turkey and world?

We can no longer take elder care for granted. As the population of the world ages, the balance between generations is irrevocably changing. Proportionally larger numbers of the no-longer economically active elderly will need to be supported by a shrinking working age population. Women will have increasingly come to outnumber men at advanced ages, presenting elderly women and families with a novel and challenging old-age experience.

As Turkey begins to confront an irreversible shift in the generational balance, in this country we too will be faced with a shifting balance of responsibilities to the elderly. While today just over 7.7% of the population in Turkey is over 65 as compared with 15% for Europe, by 2050 the elder population of this country will have risen to about 20%. The burden of caring for the elderly will be faced both within our families by all of us, though it almost exclusively will be in the hands of women, as caregivers and elder care receivers, and by the society as a whole as taxpayers.

While the elderly will certainly require our expanded care and concern in the future, we should also remember that they, at the same time, have much to contribute to our society with their experience, wisdom, available time and love. They are, and can increasingly become, our connection with our past and a link to the future. The elderly in Turkey as elsewhere will increasingly be contributing to society as workers and especially as volunteers in various civil society organizations.   Much attention has been placed in Europe and North America on the important support role grandmothers play in childcare while at the same time making it possible for their daughters to participate in the workforce. This will be an increasingly salient role for now longer-living grandmothers (and perhaps grandfathers) in this country. Strong intergenerational bonds in Turkey will provide a foundation for many more family-based activities supportive of elders in the future, activities which will give meaning, purpose and value to the lives of our elderly as well as to younger generations.

It is to move forward in this important project that we have established the 65+ERA.

Three certainties about aging and society

  • The proportion of active caregivers and tax-payers to recipients of elder care either at home or in day care and residential institutions will be shrinking in the coming years.
  • All generations have a direct interest and investment in a healthy and dignified old age now and in the future, as we all hope to get there.
  • We can be successful bettering the lives of our seniors and ourselves as individuals, families, and as a society only if we are aware of the challenge and are committed to working hand in hand starting now.

The challenge

Turkish society has very strong and durable intergenerational ties and responsibilities which cut across all class and regional divisions. Generational support is an important local asset in elder care, now and in the future, but with the impending population imbalance, even well-intentioned younger people will face serious social, psychological, and economic constraints in caring for their elders.

There are many important ethical, cultural, personal, as well as economic justifications for continuing to care for the elderly “in place,” now and in the future, and at the same time for developing a mixed and balanced regime of welfare for the elderly as they age and their needs and those of society change, care provided in various and changing proportions by the family, the state, the market, and civil society. The challenge is to do so in terms of a generational and gender balance that is locally meaningful and flexible, that is equitable for all, that is at the same time cost effective, and that ensures that the dignity of the dependent elderly is not compromised.

 

Who are we?

We are a small group of devoted volunteers, women and men, young and old from various walks of life: active professionals, academicians, businessmen and women, housewives, retirees, committed social activists and devoted caregivers. 

Our vision

Generations hand in hand: championing the right to a healthy and dignified old age for all

Our mission

Contributing to the development of social policies for the elderly population through our research, our pioneering/exemplary practices, and the discussions that we will help start. Developing sustainable, exemplary models during the course of creating a population that is at peace with its elderly; and becoming a pioneering institution that puts these models in practice.

We will be working in the following areas

  • Heightening awareness in Turkey of age-related individual and social issues, including prudential advance planning for old age and for an ageing society.
  • Providing for a healthy old age by promoting, supporting, and disseminating awareness and recognition of the importance of a focus on such areas as holistic medicine, diet and nutrition, active living, and  of material and moral support for these approaches.
  • Serving as a resource for policy-making on economic, political, social, psychological, spatial, and other issues with regard to the elderly,
  • Promoting an awareness of and serving as an advocate for elder rights,
  • Championing the best possible care for the elderly: developing models for care at home (“in place”), at day centers, as well as in residential institutions compatible with local traditions and needs.
  • Serving as a conduit for tools, expertise, information, and other resources in the service of the elderly from both local and international sources,
  • Providing or promoting training for elder caregivers, both professional and familial, serving at home and in institutions,
  • Collaborating with universities on their research in elder issues, and the efforts for developing sustainable alternatives for elder support and care,
  • Providing resources and capacity-building for, and working in partnership with local and central governments, the private sector and other NGOs in elder care.
  • Facilitating collaboration with international organizations with similar missions.

Our approach is

  • Intergenerational : building on already strong Turkish intergenerational ties and responsibilities,
  • Adaptive: adapting our work to changing needs throughout the individual aging process and in society,
  • Interdisciplinary: combining the approaches, experience, and methods of the medical, social scientific, entrepreneurial, legal, and charitable professions,
  • Inter-institutional : bringing together the family, the community, the state, the private sector, and civil society,
  • Non-political: remaining neutral with regard to political position and party or interest group,
  • Rights based: focusing on creating an awareness of age-related rights and gender issues and countering ageism at the individual and societal levels.
  • Internationalist: building upon and contributing to the accumulation of experience and knowledge of international organizations focusing on elder issues.