WHO designates ‘Senior Friendly Communities’ project as 'best practice'
The World Health Organization (WHO) is so impressed by 'Senior Friendly Communities' that it has designated the cross-border project for seniors in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine as an example for Europe. In this project, 9 euregional partners and 31 municipalities in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine are working together to create a senior-friendly environment. The aim is to enable seniors with dementia and late-life depression to participate in society for as long as possible. One of the unique things about the project is the cross-border sharing of concrete activities from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Instead of 're-inventing the wheel' themselves, the neighbouring countries are making use of each other's knowledge and experience.
The WHO thinks it is important that the 'Senior Friendly Communities' project gives municipalities the opportunity to structurally support seniors with dementia or late-life depression and their informal caregivers.
“As the project team for Senior Friendly Communities, we consider this designation a special milestone. We are working on creating sustainable change in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine based on the local needs in the municipalities. With targeted activities, we try to prevent seniors with dementia or late-life depression from essentially wasting away”, says lead partner Professor Frans Verhey of Maastricht University. The three-year project started in September 2016.
What does the project involve?
In 2017, research was conducted to determine what each of the 31 participating municipalities was already doing for people with dementia and old age depression and their informal caregivers. Then they were able to choose from 15 practical activities that are directly or indirectly aimed at these target groups. These are existing activities from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands that will be carried out across borders in the coming year. After that, research will again be carried out for each municipality to determine what is needed to continue along the path to becoming even more senior-friendly.
In the Meuse-Rhine Euregion, dementia occurs in about 8% of people who are older than 65. About 25% of people over 50 suffer from symptoms of depression. Due to the aging of the population, these numbers will only increase in the coming years.