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
YLE Inhimillinen Tekija
YLE Inhimillinen Tekija

One of the Finnish Blue Ribbon organisations benefiting from the Pilke Groups- Fingerros Foundation has brought the issue of loneliness and aging to public debate in a Finnish TV programme Inhimillinen Tekijä. This organisation especially searches lonely aging people in order to prevent negative effects of loneliness: alcohol abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts, isolation to their apartment.

82 year old lady tells her story of living on her own after her retirement. She tells she worked very hard in a bank when she was younger and never started a family. Now after her career, she has now been 20 years on her own. She says it is very hard to talk about this experience of living in isolation. She is now suffering from Parkinson’s disease and she has finally found this Fingerroos Foundation that provides her a social network through their activities.

These examples show the important work done through Finnish Blue Ribbon. It is vital to continue these trainings to help communities and professionals to support aging population that that are at risk. Sadly in a welfare state in Finland every other day one over 65 year old person commits a suicide. This means something is still not right in the society when this happens, we must find these isolated aging individuals and this projects has still a lot of work to do!

Thank you for your continued support!

Inhimillinen Tekijä YLE :  In the picture Anne Finkkilä, Tanja Kuronen, Aino Auranen, Ulla-Maija Nikula

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Interactive seminar on Alcohol and Aging
Interactive seminar on Alcohol and Aging

Dear supporters,

We are pleased to share some updates about our work in Finland.

We have had an eventful start in the year 2016!  On the 11th of February the Finnish Blue Ribbon held a seminar for over 100 social and health care professionals in Helsinki to promote awareness and provide information about aging and substances. During the seminar we handed out more than 200 leaflets about aging, alcohol and drugs that were published in November 2015. What is important to mention is that we have emphasized the importance of being aware of unintentional effects accompanying combined use of alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and medications may boost or decrease each other’s effects. As we age, the metabolism of the medicines in the system may slow down. It is therefore important to check with a doctor how compatible one’s medications are with alcohol, so that unintentional combined use and adverse effects can be avoided.

In other news, the Finnish Blue Ribbon trained 25 home care workers in Savonlinna, eastern Finland, on February the 15th. The goal of the training was to learn about age-related substance abuse work, ethical questions, human dignity and self-determination of the elderly suffering from substance abuse. In addition, the peer support groups (16 altogether) have continued meeting once a week in Helsinki (southern Finland), Turku (southwesterly Finland) and Rauma (western Finland). Our goal is to spread the peer support groups more widely around the country this year.

Finally, the team of the Blue Ribbon is starting a new training tour in six cities around Finland to spread the idea and knowledge about substance abuse work among the elderly, aging and substances as well as present the peer support group as a meaningful and involvement increasing way of substance abuse work.

To learn more about the work of the Finnish Blue Ribbon, please follow them on twitter: @IPTSininauha

A warm thank you for your continued support!

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Since our late update, we have continued emphasizing the human dignity of aged people struggling with substance abuse.

Three new peer support groups have been founded in Turku, Finland and eleven new instructors (social and health care professionals) have been trained to lead the support groups in Helsinki, Finland. There are now 11 groups in Helsinki (southern Finland), two in Rauma (western Finland) and three in Turku (southwesterly Finland). In the peer support groups the members have breakfast together, they tell each other how everybody’s doing, share thoughts and memories and usually the instructors have also planned some activity to carry out in the group: for example a quiz, music, games, memory exercises, handicrafts and so on. The group gets together once a week and it gives its members routine, meaning and social contacts in their life that so often is very lonely.

 We have recently published a new leaflet about aging, alcohol and drugs in plain language:

The leaflet is for the elderly, their families and social and health care professionals. We want to awaken people to consider the unexpected consequences and symptoms that can occur when using alcohol and drugs simultaneously. As people get older they will become intoxicated more easily due to physiological changes, above all to dehydration, decrease in body water content.

We look forward to year 2016 as we continue spreading information about aging and substances and the peer support group action wider in Finland.

 A warm thank you to the donors!

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In order to engage with an aging population with alcohol related issues, an new innovative outreach approach has been developed. It is a multi-agency approach to help elderly people from all walks of life to find their way to the support groups. There is no criteria for each person to fulfil or how they should change in order to fit with the group - everybody is welcome. Many elderly people feel they need encouragement to attend the groups, which then help to support other activities in their life. The fact is, that in Finland and in Europe there are many elderly people struggling with substance abuse. Some can survive at home, while others need supported housing. It is worth asking how older people are willing and able to live in a supported apartment. What makes it home? And how should treat residents of substance use behavior?

The staff of Finnish Blue Ribbon have continued to run information and training sessions in various networks linked with support for aging population in Finland. They have began reaching out to train social and health care professionals and raise the public awareness of the issues.

The topic of aging and alcohol is a key subject in Finland and the staff are presenting this work on National Substance Abuse forum. You may follow the discussion through the link below and on twitter:

We want to warmly thank the donors as these activities make a real difference in the lives of many older people and their families.

We encourage you to see more about our work at

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Hello friends!

Earlier this year, trainings were completed in 9 locations in Turku to expand the work of Finnish Blue Ribbon to include alcohol and aging as an important topic for its work. The training of instructors took place from November 2014 to February 2015 and consisted of four teaching days, intermediate tasks and excursions.

The Finnish Blue Ribbon’s work with substance abuse of the elderly stems from the "Too much is always too much - aging and alcohol" project (2005-2011), where studies were done on the effects that alcohol has on the aging population in Finland and the EU. Working together with the Finnish Deacon Institute, they published an instructor’s manual for social workers dealing with specific issues of aging and alcohol use-related, including how to run group sessions talking about the problems associated with alcohol use and aging.

“There's talk of drinking anything, and the use of alcohol in general. Just ordinary stories. Just ordinary people. I was welcomed into the group, offered coffee and sandwiches. Other members told news…I do not remember everything exactly, because I was in such poor condition. However, the start gave me a positive impression and I decided to go there again next Tuesday. "

Whether participating in a housing scheme or just coming to the centers to meet with people in the same life circumstance and do meaningful activities like art projects, the elderly are building friendships that support their daily life and recovery. "Friends and the importance of friends has changed…a friend only a very small minority."

To learn more about the work of the Finnish Blue Ribbon, we invite you to visit their website and extend a warm thank you for your continued support! 

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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
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