Flanders: Immigrant elderly don't get assistance

Flanders: Immigrant elderly don't get assistance

The Flemish Region has 80,000 people aged 55 and over of immigrant origin, 4.6% of all the elderly. But in the big cities like Antwerp, that percentage goes up to 15.5% of all 55+. This according to the data of Edith Lodewijckx of the research department of the Flemish government, which she presented at a study day at the Antwerp University.
This article was translated by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspo.com
The study showed that the regular assistance rarely reaches the immigrant elderly. The do go to the clinic, but don't know of other forms of aid and don't use them. What are the specific characteristics of the immigrant elderly?

* They are much more male. For every 100 female Belgian elderly there are 87 men, while among Moroccans there are 165 men. Why is that so? Most immigrants came here to work. Their family reunification is incomplete and the age difference when they got married much greater (among Belgians, 2 years, among Moroccans, 7 years). This naturally leads to having less women over 55 than men.

* Almost all immigrants over 55 are of the first generation. But some are less than 5 years in Belgium. In Antwerp, there are 256 Moroccans (of 4,500 elderly, or 5.7%) and 55 Turks (of 2,000 Turkish elderly, or 2.7%). Those are widowers who come to live by their younger children. These group has very special problems (in the area of language).

* Immigrant elderly have a much poorer educational level than the Belgian, and the immigrant women even worse.

* The health situation of the immigrants is worse than that of Belgians. They get sick faster, already at the age of 55, and accumulate more sicknesses at a much younger age. But because they are stronger than ethnic Belgians, they need care for much longer: Belgians 10 years, immigrants more than twice as long. There are many reasons for this poor health: heavy work in risk sectors; immigration stress, both by living here as by wishing to go back; a lifestyle with not enough movement (mostly by women), and fatty foods.

* While ethnic Belgian elderly mostly live alone (45%), almost all the Moroccans and Turks live with their family. They have a big taboo against a senior home. For their care they turn to their close family, the senior home is something for "pathetic elderly who have no children". They "commute between the clinic and home", but don't utilize other forms of care.

The conclusion is that assistance should first be directed at home care, Dr. Louis Ferrant of the Anderlecht neighborhood of Kuregem summarized. He wants more intercultural intermediaries, which currently only work in the hospitals. Seven years ago they were promised for all first-line assistance, but nothing came of it.

Borgerhout doctor Leo Schillemans agrees with that and says that Antwerp hasn't appointed any interpreters recently for assistance, but only for the police and courts, so the medical problems of certain groups simply can't be treated any more.

Source: GvA (Dutch)

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