Maria Karagiannidou, Research Officer, Care Policy and Evaluation Centre (CPEC), LSE, UK
Greece is ageing much faster than in the past and according to the latest data released by Eurostat, is ageing faster than any other EU country. Currently, 22% of the Greek population is over 65 years old. It is expected that the 65+ Greek population will increase to 33% in 2070. Thus, one in three people in Greece will be over 65 by 2070. At the same time, the 80+ group will account for 15% of the total population.
Moreover, people live longer in Greece, but less than half of remaining years of life at the age of 65 is free of health problems and disability. Hence, the rapid growth of the ageing population will lead to a significant increase in the number of older people with substantial care needs. Thus, ageing and overall demographic change will affect Greece’s place in the EU and the world.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has a dramatic impact on the lives of people throughout the world and in Greece, either directly, due to exposure to the virus, or indirectly, due to unprecedented measures taken to reduce the pandemic effects. However, older adults have been particularly affected in an especially negative way. That is, dying in disproportionately higher numbers than younger people (especially in long-term care facilities), increasing loneliness as a result of lockdowns or neglected by forgone care. Other immediate results of the pandemic include the dramatic increase of ageism, a delayed medical treatment and in several cases even a lack of getting basic needs.
This report explores the myriad ways in which Greece’s ageing population will affect Greek economy, social policy and the quality of life of older people. It also goes a step forward by proposing policies and strategies for protecting and improving the lives and the dignity of older people. It draws, finally, lessons based on the COVID-19 pandemic. The present report, however, is not intended to answer everything about ageing or about the impact of the pandemic. Rather, the aim of the Greek Think Tank “DIKTIO’s work in this area since 2017 is about improving our knowledge and foresight to ensure that Greece will be able to protect those in need. This is ultimately about equipping Greece with the right tools to provide new solutions and support people through the upcoming radical change.
Professor David Grabowski (Harvard Medical School), Lorraine Frisina-Doetter (University of Bremen and special advisor to WHO), George Leeson (University of Oxford) and Paul Kidner from the Greek Charitable Foundation “TIMA”, unfolding their experience, thoughts and solutions for strengthening the services for older people.