A strong appeal to the institutions, citizens and candidates for mayor of this election campaign: “We need to change our approach to elderly from nursing home assistance to home care.” It was said this morning by Marco Impagliazzo during a press conference in the church of Sant’Egidio, where the first online guide was launched on “How to stay at home by the elderly.” (www.ilcome.it)
The president of the Sant’Egidio Community stressed the importance of a “shift in mindset” because if we help those who are advanced in their years to stay at home “the community will live better and live longer for less money.” Rome, denounced Impagliazzo, “is a city of isolated people,” represented in large part by the elderly. What is more, “social isolation kills more than smoke.” The figures are significant: “About 22% of the people living in the capital are over 65, about 620,000 people; more than the inhabitants of Genoa. They are a city within a city that you can not ignore.” A good 250,000 of them live alone, yet the data on assisted home-living are daunting as in the rest of the country. Italy italy we are at about a 2% coverage rate, while in Sweden it is somewhere around 21%.
But the elderly must be supported because they are a resource: just think that a million of them acts as a “caretaker” seeing other elders in the family, 3,200,000 thousand take care of their grandchildren and well over 7 million help the country economically. So much so that – according to census data – one in three families is able to keep their balance because of them. But in order to continue helping they must stay at home and out of nursing homes and hospitals.
In Rome there was a decline in home assistance. Over the last four years nearly 700 people have lost this service and eight day centers for the frail elderly have been closed. For this reason, Impagliazzo said, “I appeal to the citizens, institutions and also to candidates who have the ambition to govern the city: a commitment to change the culture of the country against the elderly. We must move from shelter to home care.” Also because the number of “spontaneous” structures in which the elderly are placed in randomly, has increased. More than 3,031 beds have been opened according to an investigation led by the Community.
The president of Sant’Egidio has therefore indicated that the “Long Live the Elderly” Program, active since 2004 in the districts of Trastevere, Testaccio, and Esquilino, is a replicable model. Through an intricate monitoring network for in elderly at home (12,000 followed), it was able to reduce the rate of hospitalizations by 10 percent and institutionalization by 50 percent.
All this at a cost of just 81 Euros per elderly. Monitoring that, in anticipation of the summer heat waves, which affect the health of the elderly population, Sant’Egidio will extend to all areas of Rome where it is present and in various nursing homes.