Working effectively in age-friendly communities requires political and technical help contexts as well as knowledge of the environment and the population in which the project will be developed. Also to increase the transversal approach of the project, the involvement and collaboration of different agents and administrations of the city are required.
Igorre is a 4200 inhabitants town, located in a rural area of the Basque Country, north of Spain, that has 25% of people > 60 years.
At the initiative of the Senior Citizens Association of Igorre and with the collaboration of the Town Council, several projects have been developed since 2015 to promote active aging and empower the elderly in health and other subjects.
Although the projects have grown under the age-friendly town’s programs, it is necessary to list their objectives, participants and peculiarities separately.
-“BIZI” project: Improvement in an age- friendly town. During 2016 the diagnostic phase of the project was developed. There were 10 focus group sessions, with the direct participation of 60 elderly people in them, and the information obtained was completed with qualitative research based on other available plans in the town and interviews with agents directly related to senior citizens.
The 8 subject areas proposed by the WHO were analyzed, recording >190 proposals. In addition, a commission made up of senior citizens was created to follow up the program and was also provided with a legal entity within the structure of the town hall.
IGORBILI: A program created specifically for senior citizens. This program was developed in order to promote physical activity among the sedentary senior citizens of Igorre. The participants walk through the town accompanied by an instructor one day a week and they have another muscle stretching specific session to increase flexibility. The acceptance of this project among the elderly has been very satisfactory. This activity has also been promoted by the town’s Health Center, especially encouraging people with sedentary habits, osteoarticular issues or suffering loneliness.
– “PATIENT EDUCATION IN THE WAITING ROOM”/ “OUR HEART IS IN YOUR HANDS”: Projects to empower all citizens in health issues. The first project arose at the initiative of the workers of the public health center of the town and consisted of providing the waiting rooms at the health center with TV monitors to show videos related to health issues. We knew that on average the users of the Igorre health center wait about 20 minutes to be attended by their GP doctors and we wanted to take advantage of that time to learn about health issues. Several different campaigns have been developed: allergies and asthma in the spring, CPR, anti-flu at winter …
The second project arose at the direct initiative of the town hall and had the collaboration of the educational centers of primary and secondary schools, the Senior Citizens Association and the health center workers. A tutorial video with basic CPR techniques and the use of the AED was produced and is periodically showed in the cultural center, the monitors of the health center and the town’s cinema. In addition to that, specific courses were developed for all the collectives.
– “INTERGENERATIONAL PROJECT”: They are carried out with the collaboration of parents and teachers of the primary and secondary school and Senior Citizens Association.
1.-In order to extend the knowledge of our culture and tradition among young children: grandparents and or grandmothers come to school to teach children about Basque traditions like cooking “talo” or chestnuts at Christmas…
2.-The project with the town’s high school is based on showing a film with a specific theme to 14-16 year old kids and then doing focal group sessions to exchange different points of view
Although, it is true that belonging to a small comunity in a rural area means having less economic resources, technical facilities or even a greater geographic dispersion. We believe that the accessibility of local “agents”, empathy, or knowledge over other citizens favors the involvement of different groups in the friendliness project. Furthermore, we objectify that the lack of material and technical means can be an opportunity to sharpen their imagination and make them engage in a way that they feel the project as their own. In short, the peculiarities of small rural communities encourage the active, direct and transversal participation of society.