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Society

Old, Alone: The Fate of Elderly Greeks in Remote Isolation, Desolation

November 28, 2023

ATHENS – You wouldn’t imagine it from the busy streets of Athens and Greek cities buzzing with activity, people out dining, having coffee and socializing but large numbers of elderly in the country spend their days alone in remote areas.

Greece in 2021 – at 22.7 percent – had the fourth highest rate of residents over 65, behind only Italy at first, and Portugal and Finland next, and the problem is getting worse, affecting the social security and health systems.

In rural regions and villages where populations have shrunk and died off with people moving to cities and more populated areas, Greece has one of the highest percentages of elderly living alone and far from bigger villages or towns.

That was according to a study by the Care Policy and Evaluation Center of the London School of Economics by Maria Karagiannidou, Raphael Wittenberg and Dr Jacqueline Daman in collaboration with Thalia Rizou.

Karagiannidou said it found, “the complete lack in Greece of data on older people and their needs,” with many in near isolation, with fewer friends or neighbors or others in their age group still around where they live.

The United Nations said that Greece’s population is aging faster than almost any European country and some municipalities in the country are predominantly populated by older people.

The study said elderly living in rural areas also have limited access to health care, activities and face more social exclusion, loneliness, reduced mobility and lack of access to service care, although in some villages they live far longer.

By 2030, Greece will proportionately have more elderly people than any other country in Europe, surpassing Italy, a worry for the beleaguered pension system with fewer workers paying in for more beneficiaries taking out. The data came from the European Union’s statistical agency, Eurostat, which said that in Greece – where more than half the population is already over 50 years old – that the population will fall by almost a million by 2050 and by 2 million by 2070.

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