Promote Healthy Aging in Finland

by International Blue Cross
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Promote Healthy Aging in Finland
Promote Healthy Aging in Finland
Promote Healthy Aging in Finland

At Christmas time we look back and reflect on the people who are so dear to us. People with alcohol and drug problems age before their time due to the damage that is caused to their body by substances.

Grieving the loss of health or a life lost due to substance use is often a hidden sorrow. Finnish Blue Ribbon is now publishing a handbook to help people and equip people to process their grief.

The new handbook is called: "Shared grief is easier to carry" ( Jaettu suru – kevyempi kantaa) it looks in a sensitive way to the substance abuse related losses and guides with practical examples in different stages of grief. It also gives tools for setting up a self help group for people with similar experiences. The book will be lanunched in January 2020.


At this Christmas time we hope that nobody is left alone and we are thankful for your support that makes this work possible and look forward to continuing  together with you in the new year 2020.


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The Blue Cross in Finland is currently concentrating strongly on food and food aid in line with the global trend. The aim is not only to prevent food waste, but especially to provide food to the poor by distributing meals and to provide a place of encounter and community for elderly people.

Eating alone in later age is a big topic. The isolation when loved ones die around and the social environment shrinks, causes many eating habits among older people that are not healthy. Many people feel that it is not worth cooking for themselves, so the variety of food is limited. Other people, one may willingly say older men, often cannot cook because they have been blessed by their wives all their lives. Yet others are no longer fit enough to stand in the kitchen or carry shopping bags.

This very often leads to emotional discomfort. "Happiness goes through the stomach". If the food is suddenly a burden, tastes flavorless or reinforces the solitude, it leads to health and mental damage for many people.

The Finish Blue Ribbon allows older people to eat together regularly. The benefits and enjoyment of the lunch tables are underlined by the following statements:

The diversity of food aid work is a relief in everyday life, it reaches many different people for many different needs. 

Peter, an annual member of the Church who eats at church three times a week, says he can't even cook: “I would eat cold food if these places didn't exist.” Two other days a week, Peter goes to Vuosaari for dinner and the other in Vartiokylä. Nina, a resident of Vallila, says she regularly attends a meal held by 4-5 parishes around Helsinki: “I must visit here when there is such a small pension. I'll go somewhere. The crowd is fun to eat.” Peter, sitting at Nina's table, says that cooking at home doesn't make sense: "What would you even cook for yourself."

The most important theme throughout the day is that a person should be allowed to be involved in the society in which you live. Modern food aid work brings a lot more than food.

With your support, you help to ensure that old people not only get a warm meal, but also enjoy their daily lives through the community. The social contacts throughout the meal become friendships! Thank you for your donation!

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Many methods of dealing with alcohol abuse focus solely on the addict. The 5-step method is filling a gap that exists for family support that does not see family members solely as supporters for their loved one but as people needing support for themselves in their own right. The Sininauhaliitto, Blue Ribbon (Blue Cross in Finland) uses this method to overcome addictions holistically in families across all generations. Especially for adults whose elderly parents show addictive behaviour it can help.

The 5-step method consists of 

1. listening non-judgmentally

2. providing relevant information 

3. exploring ways of coping

4. discussing social support

5. exploring further needs

Especially at step 4 the work of Blue Cross helps. For example, addicts and relatives can find support in self-help groups. By sharing the same experiences and feeling seen and understood, people's burdens fall off their shoulders. Hearing another story that is similar to one's own helps for the healing process. 

Two different family clubs met for a joint club night in Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä Street and Sepän Kipinä. Among other things, the topic was the dry outbreak. Dry outbreak means that the close / family members return to the previous negative oppositions and thinking habits. This is especially true for families where the problem of drug abuse has led to difficult family relationships. There may have been wounds that are not easy to heal between family members. Therefore, it helps to talk about such issues together and to promote cohesion among families.

Your donation helps for the implementation of further activities and holds young and old together. Thank you! 

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When there is no longer any difference between everyday life and weekends 

The lives of pensioners are more marked by alcohol than ever before, especially the drinking of women is increasing. If grandma is dizzy, one should also consider alcohol as a possible cause, says Markus Partanen. While the alcohol consumption of others is decreasing, pensioners find themselves in a different situation. 

The latest study of drinking behaviour in Finland was published in autumn 2018. According to the study, drug abuse among older people has increased sharply since the 1980s. For more and more senior citizens, alcohol consumption is part of everyday life. Seniors do not clearly distinguish between everyday life and weekends: If work doesn't regulate time anymore, it doesn't regulate drinking as clearly as it does for employees. The number of women aged 65 to 84 who consume alcohol has risen from 38% to 62% in 20 years. At the same time, the proportion of male users ranged between 70 and 80 percent. 

"The phenomenon is not really surprising, as alcohol consumption increased steadily in the 1960s and 1970s in the lives of mature baby boomers," says THL researcher Christoffer Tigerstedt. The retired generation has experienced a major change in the release of alcohol. In their youth in the 70s, alcohol was bought at the bar. Even in the '80s it was a joke to insist on a midnight kiosk while it is common today. In the adulthood of big baby boomers, for example, alcohol sales have become normal, for example at sporting events. People over 65 are also healthier and richer. They travel and practice and are more active consumers than previous generations - including alcohol consumption.

The phenomenon is so new that it is difficult even for health professionals and social workers. Particularly addicted older women are often not recognised. Women drink more socially: A glass of wine with a friend is a typical situation for a retired alcoholic woman. The topic of the old, drinking women is still a taboo: A sweet grandmother would not smell of wine. It is therefore more difficult for women to admit that alcohol has become a problem. In 1993, only 8% of women aged 65-84 consumed alcohol, but twenty years later it was already 24%. Retired men drink more often and simultaneously more than women, but older women drink faster. The curve is steep, partly due to the low starting level. In the past, older women were often completely sober. Consumption is now balanced and increasing for both sexes. 

The Finnish Blue Ribbon has created groups to train professionals and offer peer support, advice and information to the aging population. Help to counteract the trend and promote healthy ageing. Thank you for your donation! 

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Two trends can be observed in Finland. On the one hand there is a growing aging population: By 2060 every 4th person will be older than 65. On the other hand, there is a cultural change regarding alcohol consumption: Finns drink more and women in particular are increasingly consuming alcohol. 

Research shows that 62% of the Finnish aging population uses alcohol and 8% of these abuse it. Excessive alcohol use in the elderly leads to loneliness, accidents, mixing with medication, binge drinking and using alcohol as self medication. This trend has an effect on the whole society, so that headlines like Alcohol now Finland's top killer can be found in the newspapers: Figures for 2005 released by the state statistics agency showed alcohol killed more people than cardiovascular disease or cancer. Almost as many women died of alcohol-related causes as breast cancer in the same year of the study in Finland. 

From this it can be concluded that the elderly in particular must be protected and prevented from drinking alone at home. 

The Finnish Blue Ribbon has created groups to train professionals and offer peer support, advice and information to the aging population. Help them!

Thank you for your donation!

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International Blue Cross

Location: Bern - Switzerland
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