On 5 February 2018 the Red Cross of Serbia and HumanaS network organised a press conference “Social inclusion of older persons (65+) in Serbia“ where they presented the results of the research on quality of life and social inclusion of older people in Serbia. Measuring social inclusion/ exclusion is a challenge due to its multidimensional nature as well as the absence of standardised sources of information across different countries and different vulnerable groups. Despite these limitations, the existing data allows for analysis of key aspects of inclusion/ exclusion.

The research on social inclusion of older people was based on statistical data from public sources as well as other available data, looking at financial means, access to resources and services, social participation and social networks, leisure, life styles, culture and communication, quality of life and subjective perception of satisfaction. The research activities were performed by SeCons Group for Development Initiatives.

The available data shows that Serbian population is among the eldest in the world, with the trend of intensive population ageing continuing due to low natality and fertility rates and migration of younger population. Looking at the way older women and men live in Serbia, it can be said that their general status is unfavourable in comparison with the status of older persons in European Union.

According to the data, in 2016 the population over the age of 65 accounted for 19 percent of Serbian population and only 15 percent of this figure was employed. Gender differences are quite pronounced so the rate of employment for men was 19.5 percent and only 9.6 percent for women. The research also showed that it is necessary to improve the access to health services and increase the capacities for home care and home treatment of older people. A good example of improved healthcare services is introduction of electronic prescriptions. An important aspect of ageing is ensuring financial security in the older age.

Older persons account for 15 percent of social welfare beneficiaries with the most frequently used service being home care. It is necessary to expand the offer and capacity of social welfare services.

In the twelve months preceding the research, only 17 percent of persons over the age of 65 were using a computer which is significantly lower than in the European Union where for the same population the percentage is 52.

“This is the sixth large research study conducted by the Red Cross of Serbia in its efforts to improve the quality of life of older people. Through gathering and analysing data we can identify the needs and problems older people face and use them to define recommendations on how to improve their quality of life. This research is only one element of the years-long efforts of the Red Cross of Serbia to improve the quality of life of older people but also to help recognise their potential and have them included in all the spheres of social life.” – as expressed by Ms Vesna Milenovic, Secretary General of the Red Cross of Serbia.

The research study was done within the framework of the three year regional project “Taking Action on Social Inclusion of Older People” implemented through cooperation of civil society networks of five Western Balkans countries. The project is coordinated by the Red Cross of Serbia and supported by European Union, Austrian Development Agency and Austrian Red Cross.