Take a break! Charity creates golden memories taking vulnerable seniors on ‘mini vacations’
A charity foundation is seeking to highlight the issues faced by the elderly during the summer season via a program of ‘one day vacations’ aimed at vulnerable and lonely seniors.
The Polish branch of the International Federation of Little Brothers of the Poor (Mali Bracia Ubogich) is appealing for greater awareness of the plight of the elderly, many of whom will be spending the summer trapped in stiflingly hot high-rise housing blocks.
Providing care and year-round support for 450 people, many of the organization’s charges share the situation of 84-year-old Maria; with health problems meaning she is unable to leave her home independently, she instead must spend the day inside a sixth-floor apartment whose temperature sometimes soars to 40 degrees.
Joanna Mielcarek, director of the Polish branch of the organisation said: “In the summer, when heatwaves are incredibly irritating, we are particularly concerned that our older friends are able to breathe some fresh air and, for at least a day, take a break from their sun-baked apartments.”
With the help of volunteers, the organisation is working on providing the elderly with a moment of respite by taking them on one-day breaks.
So far, trips have included such destinations as Łazienki Park in Warsaw, the scenic satellite town of Konstancin-Jeziorna, the upscale garden community of Podkowa Leśna, the Poznań Palmhouse and Kazimierz Dolny.
Professor Włodzimierz Piątkowski, a health sociologist and director of the department of Community Health Problems at the Marie Curie University of Lublin’s Medical School said: “Heat waves are particularly dangerous for older people… they find it harder to adapt to higher temperatures and high humidity and are also often dealing with many chronic and psychosomatic illnesses.
“Moreover, they have fewer social contacts and sociologists are concerned that old age in Poland most often than not equates to loneliness.”
Adrianna, a volunteer, admits that the work can be hugely rewarding. Speaking of one trip to Łazienki Park with her charge, Nina, she said: “It was a unique day that allowed Nina to smile at her memories. I’m incredibly moved that I could accompany her.”
Mielcarek, director of Mali Bracia Ubogich added: “It’s always moving for us when volunteers who have lost their own grandparents, tell us how fantastic it is to be, even if for a moment, with someone who looks at life from a different perspective.
“We have noticed that in the youngest generations, there is a real need for contact with older people,” she continued.
Through the ‘one day vacation’ campaign, so far 100 elderly people have been able to take a break in June and July; the organisation now hopes to support several hundred more who have expressed an interest, to do so.
For further details, see: https://www.malibracia.org.pl/wakacje/