HelpAge Germany promotes the social, economic and cultural rights of older people. This is even the more important considering that by the mid-century there will be more old than young people on the planet. The projects which HelpAge supports are aiming at giving older people recognition, income security, physical wellbeing and enabling them to live a dignified life.
HelpAge Germany is an affiliate of the international network HelpAge International (helpage.org) which consists of 80 member organizations and approximately 200 partners in more than 40 countries.
The invisible victims of disasters
Older people are especially vulnerable to and affected by disasters. They are less mobile than younger people, often lack physical strength, suffer from age-related diseases and are regularly overlooked in aid programs. Most international donors focus their work on supporting children and women. But then, 60% of older people in the world live in rural areas which are especially disaster-prone – making the lack of support even more upsetting.
Therefore, in disasters, HelpAge and its partners focus on supporting the needs of older people, but is nevertheless not ignoring the needs of their families. Thus, children who are often raised or at least watched after by their grandparents are also included in the HelpAge support. In addition, HelpAge is advocating the capacities and entitlements of older people and takes care their opinions are considered in any decisions taken during projects.
Special support for the old
Further "special support" that HelpAge incorporates into its projects is, for example, separate distribution points or lines for older people. Ideally, older people can sit in shaded spaces while waiting for their turn to receive aid materials. For the physically weak, home delivery of relief items can be arranged.
The relief goods are also adjusted to older people's needs, like in nutrition. In the health sector, HelpAge's medical teams are trained in typical age-related diseases like diabetes or hypertension. Aside from chronic diseases, HelpAge is often providing assistive devices like wheelchairs or hearing aids to those in need.
When disasters like earthquakes or floods strike, older people often lose everything they have built throughout their lives. Financial (cash) and psychosocial support is therefore also included in HelpAge's portfolio.
Including older people into disaster management
Disaster risk reduction and prevention is becoming more and more important. Yet, the knowledge of older people about indigenous or bio-indicators for early warning or about behaviour and "things to do" in disaster situations, is hardly accessed or made use of.
For older people aren't merely victims of disasters, but on the contrary, can contribute to coping with the effects of disasters. HelpAge is actively promoting this by involving older people into disaster management, developing actions plans for risk management etc.