Promote Healthy Aging in Finland

by International Blue Cross
Play Video
Promote Healthy Aging in Finland
Promote Healthy Aging in Finland
Promote Healthy Aging in Finland
Life stories of grieving
Life stories of grieving

During this year we are collecting stories of people who have lost their loved ones due to substance abuse. The stories can be submitted through the attached link before 31.8.2017.  We want to raise this difficult issue to public awareness in order to help those who suffer in silence.  According to last statistics during 2015, there were 1700 people who died due to alcohol abuse in Finland. Although, the number of alcohol deaths has reduced, the number of over 65's alcohol mortality is increasing. Finland and Nordic countries are sadly amongst the countries with highest mortalility rates for this group of people. Amongst the drug users the rate is much higher and people grieving for the deaths of their loved ones is yet many times higher.

Dr Mari Pulkkinen has noted grieving as a bigger tabu in Finland than the actual death. ' Many people are worried of being labeled as grieving, as it changes other people's ways of relating to them.'(HS 17.2.2017) If grieving itself is stigmatizing how hard is the stigma when the death is related to substance abuse. This project shows special empathy and sensitivity towards substance abuse related grieving and hopes to bring the topic to more open discussion. Your support to this work makes a real difference and we thank you for your continued commitment to supporting healthy ageing in Finland!


Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

During the last few months eleven new instructors (social and health care professionals) have been trained to lead peer support groups in Turku, southwesterly Finland. A few new groups have been founded also in Helsinki, southern Finland. There are now 14 groups in Helsinki, three groups in Turku and two groups in Rauma (western Finland). Our goal is that the peer support group action spreads wider in Finland this year.

The peer support groups get together once a week: it provides routine, meaning and social contacts in the life of elderly sufferning from substance abuse problems that so often is very lonely. Some of the groups also provide small activities at a workshop.

The group members have been asked how they feel about the groups. Here are some direct quotes from the group members:

 ”I’m always looking forward to friday, It’s so nice to be part of this.” (male, 66)

”It’s the highlight of my week.” (male, 78)

”I stay sober at least that day” (male, 73)

”I feel better in the company of other people as a part of a group” (female, 67)

”My social skills have improved. I used to be afraid of groups but now I’ve learned that by experience I can adjust.” (Female, 58)

”I am not lonely anymore.” (Female, 64)

Also the majority of the group instructors feel that because of the meaningful, effective peer support group action their job satisfaction and their understanding of elderly people’s substance abuse problems have increased / improved.


We continue our work among the elderly and thank our doners once again for your support.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

From 2017 the project with aging and alcohol is focusing on a senitive and complex aspect of working with people with substance abuse problems -pallative care of people with substance abuse problems. People with substance abuse problems age before their time and the pallative care often needs to be given amongst ordinary supported housing situations.This is why the staff need the skills to pay attention to the necessary aspects of the difficult process.

Aging people with substance abuse problems or addictions deserve to receive dignified and good pallative care like all other people. The challenge is for the professionals how to talk about death and all issues related to the experieneces that are effected by substance abuse and its effects to the person and their significant others. What are the topics that are hidden and how to help the person to discuss these matters and how to take into consideration the wishes of the person and enable a joint approach.

Finnish Blue Ribbon is running series of training sessions on this topic around Finland to train substance abuse professionals and supported housing and homeless centre staff to consider good practice whilst caring for people with very ill health related to their substance abuse. You can find more information about the training through

Thank you for your support for this work- it truly makes a difference.

Attachments: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Let us See
Let us See

I met with an elderly woman's one day on an October morning in Hakaniemi square. She drank white spirits straight from the bottle. She wore a loose-fitting men's jacket, the head was covered with a baseball cap and she wore ballerina slippers. She also wore lipstick and nail polish. The woman was trying to get in contact with other people at the bus stop without success and then she mumbled that “everybody seems to be deaf.”

Finally she started to approach me as I was look towards her and did not turn away. She started to talk to me. After a while she said: Why do you look at me so pleasantly? Are you a writer or an observer? I was confused how she could guess that in my head I was preparing this text about aging and substance abuse. It was a cold morning and she only wore light clothes, I asked if she was cold. She told me that the coat she was wearing was her late husband’s smoking jacket. She gently stroke the sleeve of the coat and I could see her sadness and longing. Our eyes met and she wanted to shake my hand. The tram arrived to the stop and we were both tearful. I hugged her and wished her all the best. Thank you my angel, she said.

The majority of older people to use alcohol in a controlled manner, but there are a small number of people for whom alcohol consumption has become an everyday habit. Risk limits change over the years and, for example bereavement of loved ones or a sudden illnesses of family or friends, pain and loneliness can increase the risk of alcohol use.

The elderly who belong to any of the risk groups use alcohol more as a pastime, the relief of depression or loneliness or relieving the feelings of meaninglessness of life if they are not given alternative tools to deal with their situation. This is why Blue Ribbon Finland wants to promote the work with aging population and find alternatives to substance abuse.

This week we celebrate substance abuse prevention week . This year the theme of the week is to be encouraged to speak and ask questions and feel free to talk about substance abuse. The  Finnish Blue Ribbon has published a new book Anna meidän nähdä- that celebartes the 80 years of Blue Ribbon work and discusses how we find ways to reach and truly meet people in need.


Heidi Eriksson, the elderly substance abuse Coordinator


Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

The Blue Ribbon Finland has published “Aging and Substances” booklet that has been written in plain language to aid people to understand the risks and issues regarding substance abuse at older age. It includes a simple test about your alcohol use, effects of alcohol abuse described on women and on men. It also discusses the issues related to drug abuse and gives tips to reduce and stop the usage. Finally it provides guidance on seeking support and provides useful tips for self help and first steps for recovery.

Have a look and be surprised how much ore you can learn by reading this small booklet. Available in Finnish as a free PDF download


Thank you for your continued support that makes this work possible!

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

International Blue Cross

Location: Bern - Switzerland
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @BlueCrossTweets
Project Leader:
Anne Babb
Bern, Bern Switzerland
$3,923 raised of $10,000 goal
127 donations
$6,077 to go
Donate Now
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

International Blue Cross has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:
Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.