According to the data from the last Census, Montenegro joined the group of European countries whose population is ageing rapidly. Out of the total population (620 029 inhabitants), 18,3% is the population above the age of 60. It is very important to emphasize that there are significant differences among Municipalities and that the population is ageing rapidly especially in the northern Municipalities.
The Statistical Office of Montenegro predicts that the aging process will be accelerating in the coming decades and in 2050 every fourth inhabitant will be older than 65. Ageing will have major socio-economic impacts in the next few years. Even now, older people belong to the most vulnerable groups in the country, as a significant number of them are living in isolated rural areas, having been left behind by younger generations seeking work in cities or abroad. Many of them have no access to medical, social transport services and have little recourse for assistance.
The latest research done by the Red Cross (“Position of older people in Montenegro and their satisfaction with existing services” 2018) shows that the biggest issues of this population are: loneliness, poverty, health problems, lack of support. Based on these results the Red Cross of Montenegro is constantly developing and improving services for older people with main aim to improve their quality of life, as well as to contribute to healthier ageing of all generations.
Red Cross activities
Red Cross of Montenegro is implementing Home care program for more than 20 years now. Support to older people in the Red Cross includes various projects based on different needs of this population: Home care (services provided by trained volunteers and services provided by home helpers), Clubs for older people and Healthy Ageing.
In 5 municipalities in Montenegro, around 100 trained volunteers visit 300 beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are people over 65 that have low income, health problems, live alone or with someone who is not able to take care of them and don’t receive similar support from other organization or institution. The following services are provided: psychosocial support, distribution of humanitarian aid based on needs assessment, grocery shopping, doctors’ appointments, paying bills, small housework and procurement of medicines. It is important to emphasize that volunteers are usually very young people (primary or high school), who spend with their beneficiary around 2 to 4 hours per week, and it that way not only that they support them in everyday activities but also they represent great example of intergenerational solidarity and cooperation in their community. Their relation is based on mutual trust and understanding, and gives them opportunity to learn from each other.
Besides these activities, in 18 municipalities Red Cross established cooperation with Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and local authorities and provides professional assistance for beneficiaries through services of home helpers (paid staff). These services are focused on maintaining personal and space hygiene. In 2020, in total 130 home helpers are providing support for 1 300 beneficiaries, older people who have difficulties in performing daily activities.
Clubs for older people and Healthy ageing
For beneficiaries who are able to get out of the home and willing to be active, RC established Clubs for older people in 5 municipalities. The main goal is to prevent social isolation and provide place where older people can meet, spend some time together, socialize and receive but also give support to each other. Around 120 beneficiaries meet two times per week and spend their time making handicrafts, playing social games, socializing with students of Primary or High school, participating in different workshops… Clubs are often visited by doctors, lawyers, psychologists and other experts, from different fields, who provide advices for older people.
Starting from 2017, besides regular activities, Clubs are also implementing Healthy ageing project based on manuals created by the IFRC. Thanks to that, beneficiaries were learning a lot about: Functional ability–life course, Assessment, Behavior change, Preventing NCDs, Preventing falls, Preventing social isolation, Healthy eating, Physical activity and Lifelong learning. All beneficiaries have the opportunity to check their blood pressure and level of sugar in blood during their stay in the Club. Healthy ageing activities are also implemented with other target groups including children and youth.
Many other activities such as: trainings for volunteers (Home care and Healthy ageing trainings are conducted based on IFRC guidelines), first aid trainings for older people, different public events, excursions, celebrating important dates, meetings, networking with relevant institutions and NGOs, participation in working groups in decision making processes, are implemented during the year.