Waiting for the world elder abuse awareness day 2019, we will post everyday a story from real-life situations where the human rights of older people in Finland, Ireland, Italy and Romania were not respected. Their stories illustrate the challenges older people face in having their rights met.
Food and medicine impossible on my state pension
Bianca is 66 years old and has high-cost medical bills. She is being treated for cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. Some of the bills are covered by the health system but increasing amounts are not. She struggles to maintain her physical and mental well-being on her limited state pension. Bianca has had to fight hard for this meager income.
All through her professional life she has paid full contributions into her state pension fund. On retiring, Bianca had calculated that she would be due a pension of 189 euro per month. However after a department assessment she was only given a 140 euro pension. Shocked, she tried without success to find out why she hadn’t received the amount she believed she was entitled to. After being warned that her pension could be reduced even further, if she appealed the decision, Bianca still went ahead with the appeal. Her worst nightmare was realised when the amount was reduced by almost 3 euros more.
Contrary to Bianca’s gentle and non-confrontational manner, she decided to fight for her pension rights in a court of law and was awarded a pension of €205 per month. However Bianca finds that this still “does not provide me with an adequate standard of living” as without her son’s financial support, it would be impossible to cover the costs of her basic expenses and medicines every month. In her retirement, she had plans to travel, learn a foreign language, go to the swimming pool; do all the things she never had time to do when working. Now she can not even buy clothes, if she is to have enough to live on.
Bianca believes that older adults are treated unfairly and disrespectfully and wishes there would be “a review of the income of retired people so as to give them a more adequate and equitable income so that they can live a decent life and pay the bills.” But she concedes that she does not believe that this will happen, “I do not think my generation will ever get to live and enjoy this kind of life compared to the retirees from other European countries.” Bianca admits that older adults are quite apathetic but “what should you expect? We come from a time and place where you did not stand up to authority. Older people feel this injustice very deeply. We are treated so badly.”
Bianca’s story highlights infringements of these rights
ECHR Article 8 Right to respect for private and family life: the protection of physical and mental well-being;
ECHR Protocol 1 Article 1 Protection of private property: pensions constitute a procession
ECHR Article 14 Prohibition of discrimination in the enjoyment of Convention rights