“Different kinds of non-governmental organizations offer a variety of services and opportunities that active pensioners can participate in,” says Satu Helin.
Finns who are of retirement age are healthier and more active than before. They also have a great deal of high-level competence and are more affluent than earlier generations. This all allows pensioners to participate actively in the development of society and in buying services that improve the quality of life.
On average, Finns retire just after the age of 61. Due to longer lifespans, one fifth of the population has already turned 65, and by 2030 that number will have reached a quarter. These individuals, totaling nearly one million people, are a great national resource, and a significant number of them still want to feel that they can be of some use.
“According to a study conducted a few years ago, one third of people of retirement age are active in volunteer organizations. We hope that the number of volunteers will rise, especially for activities that benefit (the elderly) older persons. It is gratifying to see that young pensioners are ready among other things to help guide older people in learning IT, either directly in their intimate circles or through organizations that use VTKL’s ready-made materials,” explains the Executive Director of The Finnish Association for the Welfare of Older People’s, Satu Helin. She notes that public funding does not cover everything and that there is a need for volunteers.
Among older people, there are, however, also many who have no networks and experience loneliness.
“This can be distressing and can negatively affect health. We have, in fact, invested a lot in Circle of Friends Activities, and we train both trainers and circle leaders all around Finland,” Helin says.
A time to make plans
By retirement age at the latest, the realization that infirmity and health problems are increasing amongst loved ones will hit.
Anybody can fall ill or be involved in an accident. It would indeed be good to think about suitable housing before mobility becomes problematic. It would also pay to talk with loved ones openly and timeously about issues such as guardianship and medical directives, where things that matter can be decided so that you are treated as you want to be when you cannot make these decisions yourself.
Text: Maija-Liisa Saksa
The Finnish Association for the Welfare of Older People is a nationwide old-age policy organization promoting the welfare and social protection of the older population.
It has 340 member organizations, of which 200 provide support services for the wellbeing of older people, including housing, rehabilitation, and home care services, among others. In addition, the association provides free home repair advice for people over 65 years of age , as well as a variety of voluntary activities.
The Finnish Association for the Welfare of Older People also adopts positions on and represents older people in the preparation of both legislation and recommendations.