The role of the elderly in our society, society’s responsibility towards them, and the need for more care and involvement coming from their families have been subjects discussed during a symposium, Faces of Ageing: Lived Experiences of the Older Person, organised by CareMalta, earlier this month.

Stakeholders in the elderly care and active ageing sector attended the symposium, as well as the Minister for the Elderly and Active Ageing, Jo Etienne Abela, the Shadow Minister for the Elderly, Paula Mifsud Bonnici, together with Vassallo Group’s Chairperson, Natalie Briffa Farrugia, Vassallo Group’s Chief Executive, Pio Vassallo, and CareMalta’s Chief Executive, James Sciriha.

How we view ourselves as tomorrow’s older persons and what we can become were one of the subjects tackled by Dr Christian Borg Xuereb, Head of Gerontology and Dementia Studies Department within the Faculty of Social Wellbeing at the University of Malta.

The social role that older generations play within society, especially to younger generations and how this should be acknowledged, was addressed in presentations by Professor Pierre Mallis and Dr Maria-Aurora Fenech. The different perspectives of society towards the elderly and ethical issues were also tackled.

During his speech, Minister Jo Etienne Abela stated that in his new role, responsible for the country’s elderly sector, he wants to leave a tangible impact especially when it comes to dementia. He then mentioned how it is a priority for him as a Minister to make sure that the elderly feel and know they are safe.

Minister Abela continued by mentioning how every year on the 15th of June, it is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and how unfortunately the abuse of the elderly is a serious issue that needs much more awareness. He further explained how financial, emotional, physical abuse and neglect are everyday issues for some elderly.

Vassallo Group’s Chairperson, Natalie Briffa Farrugia, has also addressed the symposium and spoke about the need for more care and responsibility from families of the elderly. She explained that even though the elderly receive good care and medical attention in residential homes, at the end of the day they still yearn for the involvement of their family.

Natalie  Briffa Farrugia explained how almost 30 years ago, Vassallo Group invested in the elderly care sector, which at that time it was still a niche market. Nowadays, the same sector has a high occupancy rate, has no seasonality, there is a growing demand and through government funding, certain projects and investments are made more viable.

This symposium is an annual event organised by CareMalta Group, however, for the past two years, it could not be held due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Through these events, CareMalta manages to introduce discussions to profound questions and concepts about the elderly care sector.