Living situations contributing to the risk of social exclusion among the elderly

Public sources and available documents clearly show that social exclusion causes individuals to experience an array of degrading experiences and often causes difficult living situations that lead to a decrease in an individual’s quality of life and his/her disqualification from society. Social exclusion has serious consequences and is not only limited to selected groups of the population. This research survey has thus focused on the occurrence of selected high-risk living situations that can lead or contribute to the social exclusion of the elderly. To what degree do the elderly feel threatened by social exclusion and what do they consider to be likely risk factors?

In May 2015, the Institute for Evaluations and Social Analyses (INESAN) completed a research survey dealing with selected aspects concerning care for the elderly in regard to social inclusion. The research survey focused on describing the present living conditions of the target group and prerequisites for their successful inclusion. It also focused on attitudes and preferences concerning the method of inclusion and use of services. Quota sampling was used to select respondents and only people in a pre-elderly or elderly age, i.e. aged 55 to 84, were included in the studied sample; also, only people from areas with less than 5,000 inhabitants were included. A total of 651 interviews were carried out within the completed research survey.

Based on a detailed analysis of replies from the elderly, six risk factors that could contribute to their social exclusion were identified. These included (1) health problems / social isolation, (2) increase in prices / lack of finances, (3) exposure to criminal acts committed by unknown individuals, (4) loss/threat to present employment, (5) threat to their closest social surroundings, (6) loss of property/insolvency. The survey focused on the probability of these factors occurring to individuals who had never before experienced a high-risk situation. For the first group of risk factors (health problems / social isolation), a total of 51% of elderly individuals see health problems limiting their ability to deal with day-to-day situations as the most serious and therefore probable factor. The lack of funds, primarily to pay for housing, is seen by the elderly (a total of 41%) as a very probable and serious risk and belongs to the second group of factors. Results have shown both the predictable risk factors above (health or the lack of finances) and other surprising factors, which were, however, viewed by the elderly as being the second least likely. The elderly see a smaller risk (11%) in a threat from their closest surroundings caused by a deterioration in family relationships; however, in the event of a conflict, such a situation can significantly lead to the social exclusion of an elderly individual (loss of loved ones, solitude, deterioration of economic situation, etc.). Results also showed that individual risk factors are perceived in the same manner by both elderly age groups (i.e. ages 55–64 and 65–84).

Graph: Probability of selected living situations occurring next year

The probability of the occurrence of the selected risk factors is clear and is anticipated in the following year by the elderly primarily in the area of health and other related health problems. If an elderly individual is no longer able to carry out and deal with day-to-day activities, the probability of social exclusion from society significantly increases. This is similarly valid in regard to the lack of finances needed, especially to pay for expenses linked to housing.