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Bpost project maps, tackles loneliness among elderly

21:03 16/08/2019

One in 10 residents in Beringen rarely see other people. In the Limburg town, one in three people over the age of 75 live alone.

The finding is the result of a collaboration between the Beringen social service centre De Klitsberg and the federal post service Bpost. The bClose project saw mail carriers visiting the homes of the town’s eldest residents with the aim of better understanding their situation and needs in March and February of this year.

The Beringen postal workers visited residents aged between 75 and 95, and asked them a series of questions about their well-being. In addition to recording residents’ answers to these questions, the postal workers also wrote down whether they looked health and whether their home seemed clean and well-kept.

While all the respondents reported having a trusted person they could approach for help, one in 10 indicated that they did not have regular contact with friends, families or others. One in 25 also said that they sometimes didn’t see or hear from any one for weeks at a time.

Beringen city councillor Hilal Yalçin told De Standaard that the results of the bClose survey would be put to good use. “Our social services staff visited the 76 individuals who said that they would welcome such a visit. We will point them to the offer of our social service centre. I also want to involve residents,” she said. “I strongly believe in creating space –  also figuratively – for community-building and to help look out for one another.”

Mail carrier Ingrid van Geel visited 20 elderly residents as part of the bClose project. She said that many of the locals she visited weren’t aware of the services available to them. “We took brochures with us that outlined all the available forms of assistance – home care service, cleaning services, someone who comes and prepares food. A lot of people didn’t know about this. They were really happy to find out.”

BClose was first launched five years ago and has been rolled out in 35 municipalities across the country. Towns who want to participate pay a fee of €10 per visited resident.

Photo: Belga / Maxime Anciaux

Written by Flanders Today