Sharjah solidifies its status as a global role model in elderly care

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Sharjah is witnessing a tangible transformation towards establishing an infrastructure that prioritises the elderly.
Image Credit: WAM

Sharjah: Guided by the vision and directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the Emirate has made a qualitative shift in its initiatives targeting people of all age groups and has developed an integrated strategy and precise methodology for a comprehensive infrastructure that supports the elderly and helps them to live their lives in comfort and to their full potential.

At a time when the world is witnessing major transformations in terms of social and environmental care, the Emirate shines as a beacon illuminating the path of development and social progress in the region, thanks to its extraordinary initiatives and programmes targeting all social segments to ensure their future and enhance their welfare programmes.

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A new chapter in care for the elderly

On September 13, 2016, Sharjah wrote a new chapter in the region’s history, when it officially joined the World Health Organisation’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities becoming the first Arab city to receive the coveted membership, and emerging as a role model for sustainable care across generations.

As part of its strategy, Sharjah has not only been working to bolster its position as a member of the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities, but it has been implementing these standards in all aspects of the daily lives of the elderly, underscoring its pioneering role in the region and the world.

Asma Al Khudari, Director of the Sharjah Age-Friendly City Programme, emphasised the importance of Sharjah’s steps and commitment to enhancing the quality of life for the elderly, which was embodied in the involvement and cooperation of various institutions from both the public and private sectors in the Emirate by integrating the concepts and standards of age-friendly cities, set by the WHO, into their operations and services.

Infrastructure and Initiatives

Sharjah is witnessing a tangible transformation towards establishing an infrastructure that prioritises the elderly. These efforts are evident in a series of improvements and initiatives that take into account older generations, such as, but not limited to, improving public transportation, which has been modified to facilitate its use by the elderly, ensuring smooth and comfortable movements, in addition to developing the infrastructure of walkways and sidewalks.

Al Khudari pointed out the emirate has also been training the elderly to teach them how to navigate the world of smart devices and the Internet, which contributes to bridging the digital gap and reducing the social isolation they may face.

Through these comprehensive measures, Sharjah continues to build a model for an age-friendly city, providing an environment that enhances the independence and interaction of the elderly with society with ease and safety.

This commitment included a number of historic measures that contribute to raising the standard of daily life for the elderly, including improving outdoor spaces and buildings, providing appropriate transportation services, developing appropriate housing projects, enhancing community participation, promoting respect and social integration for the elderly, as well as activating their role in civic participation and employment, and improving access to communications and information.

Al Khudari stressed the importance of community support, providing distinguished health services, and integrating the elderly into society and benefiting from their experiences and skills. In doing so, Sharjah has not only established itself as an age-friendly city, but has taken huge strides towards empowering and actively engaging them in building a more cohesive and sustainable society.

Global role model

According to the report by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau, Sharjah has been taking huge strides towards consolidating its position as a global role model in the elderly care. The emirate has been able to create a developmental environment in which it improves the quality of life for the elderly. Efforts are not limited to improving the lives of the elderly, but add unprecedented dynamism and vitality to society as a whole. The emirate is doing so through the establishment of advanced health facilities and enhancing the infrastructure to be safer and more suitable for the elderly, thus enhancing the concept of community sustainability.

The emirate pays special attention to psychological and social care, as community care centres and cultural and recreational events are an integral part of the social fabric. These initiatives seek to create interactive spaces that enhance the participation of the elderly and enable them to perform their roles as active and influential members of society.

Care beyond borders

Sharjah’s healthcare system is the cornerstone of its vision of an age-friendly city, with the emirate adopting a comprehensive approach that extends from promoting the mental and physical health of the elderly, to providing interactive environments that encourage social and volunteer participation.

Sharjah offers advanced medical equipment specifically designed to meet the special needs of the elderly. In 2017, Sharjah launched the Mobile Medical Clinic initiative, which deals with early diagnosis of chronic diseases, in addition to providing home nursing services with the aim of facilitating access to health services without the hassle of traveling to health facilities.

As part of its social responsibility, Sharjah, in partnership with the private sector, has provided special benefits and discounts for individuals over the age of sixty.

Through these integrated initiatives, Sharjah continues to strengthen its position as an ideal city for decent living for the elderly, and to establish the foundations of a society that respects and values the experiences and needs of this important group.

Intergenerational communication

Al Khudari added that Sharjah is a pioneer in promoting social inclusion for the elderly, recognising the importance of emotional and psychological well-being for this group. Through a variety of initiatives, the emirate seeks to build bridges of communication between generations, and encourage mutual understanding and respect through activities that bring together the young and the old. The emirate has also produced a number of television programmes to spread the public awareness and appreciation for the elderly.