POLAND • Ageing populations are a problem for all European Union countries, but Poland lags behind the rest in the employment of the elderly and their involvement in local initiatives.
Barely 10 per cent of the elderly devote their time to voluntary work.
The Gdynia municipal authorities have resolved to change this, encouraging senior citizens to play an active role in civil society in order to improve aspects of their lives.
At the forefront of senior-oriented policies, Gdynia was the first Polish city to establish an institution representing its oldest residents in 2004: the Gdynia Council of Senior Citizens.
The authorities have also set up the first municipal department dedicated to promoting active engagement among senior citizens: the Senior Citizen Engagement Centre.
The University of the Third Age - an educational offering for senior citizens who would like to expand their knowledge and remain active - has been in place for a number of years.
A network of clubs for senior citizens is also growing. In addition to daycare facilities, the city is developing support environments in the form of community centres for them.
Short-term 24-hour support is also being developed for caregivers in need of respite.
For its efforts, the city has been recognised by the World Health Organisation, which has given it the title of Age-Friendly City.