Ma’an, Abu Dhabi’s authority for social contribution, is about to launch a new project with the aim of integrating the elderly into their local communities. Now, retired, isolated Emiratis can partner up with volunteers and welcomed into community groups to improve their social well-being and welfare.
The National reported that the project will be implemented with Emirati citizens in its initial stages then at a later date it will be rolled out to all citizens.
A recent census has found out that there are around 50,000 senior citizens in the UAE, including both nationals as well as expats. Unfortunately, around the world this important segment of society is often forgotten. In fact, many do not have caretakers.
“Sadly, because of life’s circumstances and because many of their children and relatives are working, many of the elderly feel neglected and isolated, in spite of them being part of extended families,” said Salama Al Ameemi, director-general of Ma’an.
In light of this latest initiative, younger volunteers from the Emirates Foundation will be paired with select senior citizens based on their common interests. The program is to be more of a “buddy program” between the elderly and younger generations where individuals get to meet frequently in parks and other public areas.
“Ultimately though, the biggest impact will be an improvement in the lives of the vulnerable social groups within our community, who will feel more supported and valued than ever,” Al Ameemi continued.
30 people have been chosen to begin the program, and once summer is over, the volunteers and the elderly will gather at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi for a meet-and-greet.
“We need to go hand-in-hand and help them get out of their isolation. They did so much for us so it is time for us to give back.”
Although statistics show that the majority of senior citizens are quite satisfied with their life and feel safe and cared for, there is still more to be done. This program is the first step in the right direction of inclusion as well as integration.