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Gdynia takes care of its elderly

Gdynia encourages seniors to participate actively in contributing to civil society and improves their quality of life. PHOTO: GABRIELA KUCZ

Aging populations are a problem for all EU countries. But Poland lags behind the rest regarding employment of senior citizens and their involvement in citizen initiatives. Countrywide, barely 10 percent of golden-agers devote some time to voluntary work.

The Gdynia municipal authorities resolve to change this. They are encouraging senior citizens to play an active role in civil society in order to improve various aspects of their lives.

At the forefront of senior-oriented policies, Gdynia was the first Polish city to establish an institution representing its oldest residents in 2004—the Gdynia Council of Senior Citizens. Authorities have also set up the first municipal department dedicated solely to promoting active engagement among senior citizens—the Senior Citizen Engagement Center. For many years, the University of the Third Age has also been in place, and a network of clubs for senior citizens is growing and thriving. In addition to daycare facilities, the city is developing pleasant support environments in the form of community centres for senior citizens. Short-term 24-hour-a-day support is also being developed for caregivers in need of respite.

Thanks to these initiatives, the city has been recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has given it the title of Age-Friendly City.


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