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