‘Senior Friendly Communities’ example for Europe
August 16, 2018

WHO selects unique project in Euregio Meuse-Rhine as ‘best practice’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is so impressed by ‘Senior Friendly Communities’ that it has labelled the cross-border project for seniors in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine as a “Best Practice” for Europe. In this project, 9 Euroregional partners and 31 municipalities in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine work together on a senior friendly environment and society. The project’s goal is to have senior citizens, suffering from dementia or old age depression, take part in normal social life as long as possible. What is unique is the fact that concrete activities are shared across borders in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands and the partners learn from the experiences and knowledge in other countries.

Important to the WHO is the fact that this project gives municipalities a chance to offer consistent care and assistance to seniors as well as their caretakers. “We, the Senior Friendly Communities project team, consider this acknowledgement as a special milestone. We are working on a sustainable change in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, based on the local needs in the municipalities. With goal-oriented activities we try to prevent seniors with dementia or old age depression to grow old isolated” says lead partner professor Frans Verhey of Maastricht University. The project started in September 2016 and lasts for three years.

What does the project entail?

In 2017, a study was conducted regarding what policies the 31 participating municipalities already had in terms of (the prevention of) dementia and old age depression among their senior citizens and their caretakers. Subsequently, the municipalities could choose from a selection of 15 tailor-made activities directly or indirectly focused on these target groups. These are pre-existing activities in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands that will be exchanged transboundary the upcoming year. After this period, new research will be done in each municipality to see what is needed to continue on the chosen path and to maintain a senior friendly community. In the Euregio Meuse-Rhine approximately 8% of people over 65 have dementia. Of all 50+ seniors, about 25% struggle with complaints concerning depression. With the current shift towards a more ageing population, these numbers will only increase in the coming years.

More info about the WHO good practice brief

In August 2018, the ‘Senior Friendly Communities’ project was published as a ‘good practice’ on the website of WHO Europe.
This publication is part of the WHO program on strengthening the health system response to non-communicable diseases, like dementia and old age depression.

This project is supported by the Interreg V-A Euregio Meuse-Rhine program.