Department of Social Welfare
Councilor Guillermo Sánchez stresses the importance of adapting policies and initiatives to the new reality in order to offer quality Social Services focused on each person.
Unwanted loneliness and the treatment of addictions in old age
Avoiding isolation and unwanted loneliness or adapting the model of care for addictions during ageing to avoid situations of risk of exclusion are the issues that professionals from different areas of the Institut Mallorquí d’Afers Socials (IMAS) of the Consell de Mallorca have raised in the new edition of the Anuari de l’Envelliment. Illes Balears 2023, edited one more year by the Chair of Care for Dependency and Promotion of Personal Autonomy of the University of the Balearic Islands, together with the IMAS and the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs of the Government of the Balearic Islands.
“We must consider ageing as another life cycle, with its own characteristics and needs, but far from stereotypes and being aware of the diversity of old age. The reality of the elderly has changed and the administrations must be able to adapt policies and initiatives to offer quality social services that provide more efficient and effective responses. From the Consell de Mallorca, we are aware of this and, as we explain in the pages of this Yearbook, we work along these lines”, emphasizes the island’s councillor of Social Welfare and president of IMAS, Guillermo Sánchez, in the prologue of the publication.
“Unwanted loneliness” and “Opiate addictions, treatment and ageing in the Balearic Islands” are the two titles prepared by experts of the insular institution in which this paradigm shift experienced by the elderly is noted.
Loneliness is one of the increasingly important challenges facing Western societies and the increase in life expectancy makes the elderly one of the most affected groups. When loneliness is not chosen it can affect the quality of life, since in addition to the emotional implications it can also have physical and cognitive consequences. The article highlights the community environment and centres for active and community participation as key elements for detecting and preventing a situation that most of the time is imperceptible and goes completely unnoticed.
In this sense, the role played by the IMAS Personal Autonomy Promotion Service is essential, focused on fostering social relations, promoting healthy habits, coexistence and mutual help, with the aim of achieving the highest possible quality of life during the ageing stage, encouraging the elderly to enjoy new experiences that promote their social skills and cognitive stimulation and prevent their isolation.
Raising society’s awareness of this phenomenon, and training professionals to detect possible cases and intervention to re-engage elderly people who are alone are other items on which IMAS is working and which, as explained in the article, are key to putting an end to these situations.
On the other hand, the IMAS Addictive Behavior Unit (UCA) has taken advantage of this edition of the Yearbook to highlight the importance of offering specific, interdisciplinary and comprehensive care to elderly people with addictions and the need to reformulate reintegration trajectories, attending to their specific needs and overcoming barriers to guarantee their accessibility.
In recent years, it has been observed that the profile of users in treatment for addictions are people with a long history of heroin and other opiate use, accompanied by medical and social complications. That is why the coordinator of the UCA, who is a co-author of the article together with the research staff of the UIB and professionals of Projecte Home, emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary interventions and establishes circuits between the services that serve the collective collector.
They also highlight the need to train professionals to be able to offer comprehensive care and improve the quality of life of older people with addictions. In conclusion, they propose a new model of intersectoral care centred on the person and adapted to the different forms of ageing. In addition, they stress the need to eliminate the stigma towards addicted people and the importance of research on ageing and addictions.
The Anuari de l’Envelliment. Illes Balears 2023, which has reached its sixteenth edition this year, has become a reference to know the situation of the elderly in the archipelago from all areas. In addition to IMAS and the Ministry of Families and Social Affairs of the Government of the Balearic Islands, the Chair of Care for Dependency and Promotion of Autonomy of the UIB has also collaborated of the Guillem Cifre de Colonya Foundation of the Caja de Ahorros de Pollença and the Balearic Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology.