On the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, celebrated each year on the 1st of October, the Red Cross aims to build Belgians’ awareness on the problem of loneliness among seniors.
“We all have a neighbour who is alone,” the Red Cross said in a press release.
In 2012, a study published by the King Baudoin Foundation predicted that by 2020, Belgium would have one million elderly persons suffering from loneliness, an invisible but important public health issue.
The study showed that social isolation not only caused depression but was also “a death-risk factor at least as important as other better-known factors, such as tobacco smoking or obesity.” It is now a risk run by someone million persons living at home or in nursing homes.
Red Cross volunteers will use the international day to inform the public in Brussels and Wallonia on the social isolation the elderly suffer and invite people to share a moment with a lonely person in their vicinity. In 2018, the Red Cross organised 13,250 individual visits.
Mini boxes of pralines will also be shared out by the volunteers between 28 September and 6 October.