Bridging the generational gap

There is an urgent need to build relations based on respect, love and understanding between young people and senior citizens on the island.

Supported by UNFPA, a local project along these lines is being implemented in the central province of Cienfuegos, 250 kilometers away from Havana.

"Entitled Promoting health and good intergenerational relations, it is intended for all population groups, including children, teenagers, adults, and older people," said its manager Graciela Martín.

"Covering several districts (Cienfuegos, Cruces, Rodas, and Cumanayagua), the initiative makes it possible to disseminate relevant information and implement training actions," she added.

"They include nutrition, healthy lifestyles, family member rights, and even music," she indicated.

"We will make no further headway otherwise," stressed Arelys Crespo, a Comprehensive General Medicine specialist in Rodas.

Luis A. Escandón, a social worker in Cumanayagua, told SEMlac that the project focuses on care for and support of older people.

A marked population aging process

"People over 60 outnumbered children and adolescents in 2010. And this was unprecedented here," said a report by the National Office of Statistics' Population and Development Study Center.

"Senior citizens made up 17.9 percent of the overall population last December and will account for 31 percent by 2030," it added.

"The local population moved from 6.8 million in 1958 up to 11.2 million in 2008, but the 60-plus age group increased fourfold in the period," the text indicated.

Experts strongly favor the idea of formulating new healthcare and social policies focusing on prevention rather than on treatment.

Eugenio Selman, president of the 120 Years Club, highlighted the need to promote healthy lifestyles for satisfactory longevity.

Complex relations

Speaking at a ceremony on World Population Day last July 12, Javier García, an expert with the University of Havana's Population Study Center, said that there is a pressing need to develop a culture for aging, including older people rights at home.

A 2003 survey that involved 100 people aged 15 to 35 had shown that 96 percent of respondents were worried about getting older, especially about the financial situation they would endure. And 32 percent expressed concern over the type of care and help they would receive from their children.

A 2006 survey that covered 269 youngsters revealed similar findings. Around 73 percent of respondents were worried about their future pensions and alternative jobs. And over 50 percent expressed concern over having no children to support them when they get older.

"I am 34 now and plan to have no children. I will be an elderly woman all on her own," Maribel Ramos, a computer expert, told SEMlac.

Only 18 percent of respondents had thought of ways to cope with future health condition, and 78 percent had never bothered about it.

Singer and composer Rosa M. Campos is actively involved in the new project. She is teaching local children and teenagers to sing, dance, and make good use of medicinal plants.

"We pay special attention to respect and support for all family members," she concluded.

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